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Facebook, African NPOs partner for Safer Internet Day

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Online safety is a shared conversation, says Facebook.
Online safety is a shared conversation, says Facebook.

Facebook is partnering with over 20 non-profit organisations and government agencies in Africa, across 16 African countries, as part of its commitment to building a safer online world for all.

This as the world celebrates Safer Internet Day today. Safer Internet Day was started as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004. Now it is celebrated in around 140 countries worldwide, including SA.

This year's slogan is: "Together for a better Internet" and is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better Internet for everyone, and especially for younger users.

The campaign aims to raise awareness about Internet safety and also security concerns such as cyber bullying and cyber crime.

Facebook says it is supporting Safer Internet Day by sponsoring the printing of online safety awareness booklets, facilitating training sessions and creating a family-friendly animation to help raise awareness of the Facebook Safety Centre.

"We know that safety is a shared conversation, which is why we are excited to be working with so many stakeholders around the continent to make the Internet a better place," says Sherry Dzinoreva, public policy programmes lead at Facebook Africa.

"Together, with Safer Internet Day as a platform, we can address emerging online concerns, so that people and especially children and the youth, can get the most from their Internet experience," Dzinoreva says.

African aspirations

The campaign covers most of Sub-Saharan Africa, including Benin, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, C^ote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In South Africa, Facebook is partnering with the Film and Publication Board (FPB), Media Monitoring Africa, Google, and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services to launch the Web Rangers Programme 2019. Facebook is also supporting this effort with educational content.

"Together for a better Internet is a call to action for every government agency, private company, civil society organisation and citizen of South Africa," says FPB spokesperson Lynette Kamineth.

"A force for good, the digital world also holds some dangers. But these dangers are all created. In and of itself the Internet can only cause harm if it is used expressly for that purpose. We all need to respect the rights of others on the Internet, as much as we expect our rights to be respected."

In Kenya, Facebook is supporting Watoto Watch's Safer Internet Day event for students at Ngunyumu Primary School in Nairobi. The event is the launch-pad for the "A Million Campaign", which seeks to raise awareness about online safety among schoolchildren. Facebook is providing ad credits and safety booklets for the event.

"The Internet enables us to connect with friends and family, access a wealth of knowledge and information, and express our thoughts and creativity," says Lillian Kariuki, executive director at Watoto Watch.

"Along with these positives, children also need to understand how they can manage online risks as they make use of the Internet's resources. Our aim, with the help of Facebook, is to equip children with this knowledge."

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria is also running workshops on safer Internet use as part of its LIFE programme in Kano, Lagos and Aba in Nigeria. Facebook's safe online trainers will run two-hour workshops in Paradigm Initiative Nigeria's LIFE Centres and at schools in Kano and Lagos for this initiative.

"Working with Facebook on online safety aligns with our focus on driving digital inclusion and educating the youth about their digital rights," says Tope Ogundipe, director of programmes at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria.

"This programme promises to equip the children who participate with skills and knowledge that will enable them to make confident use of the Internet in their day to day lives."

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