Facebook pulls youngsters into its orbit

Facebook now offers a portal that teaches young people how to use its platform safely.
Facebook now offers a portal that teaches young people how to use its platform safely.

Facebook this week announced its Youth Portal, a central place for teenagers on the platform. The site includes education, a safe place to interact with peers, and ways to control their social media experience.

In SA, according to data from Stats SA's quarterly labour force survey this week, unemployment is concentrated among the youth as they account for 63.5% of the total number of unemployed persons in the country. This is irrespective of education level.

In March, speaking at the launch of the Vodacom Future Jobs Finder portal, chief HR officer Matimba Mbungela said: "It's estimated that 65% of children entering primary school will find themselves in new occupations that don't currently exist today."

This is why it is critical for young people to educate themselves in digital skills and how to navigate the Internet correctly.

Facebook's Youth Portal initiative aims to create a central place for teenagers on Facebook where they can ask for advice regarding all things related to social media and the Internet.

Antigone Davis, Facebook global head of safety, and Karuna Nain, Facebook global policy programmes manager, said in a statement that the new portal will include information on how to get the most out of products like Pages, Groups, Events and Profile, while staying safe.

The portal will also provide information on the types of data Facebook collects and how it uses it.

The Internet giant wants to help young people protect their information and image online, at a time when it is being scrutinised for not protecting its users' data during the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

The Youth Portal will also have a section called Peer Voices, which will give first person accounts from teenagers around the world about how they are using technology in new and creative ways.

There will also be tips and guidelines for how young people can get the most out of the wider Internet.

Last month, Facebook partnered with Digify Africa to host Internet safety training sessions for a thousand young South Africans this year.

The social network committed to training a thousand 13- to 18-year-olds at eight youth clubs and more than 50 high schools across the country, in face-to-face sessions. The lessons and resources will also be put online, so teachers not part of the selected schools can run the course.

The programme aims to teach young people how to keep themselves safe online. Topics include understanding their digital footprint; Facebook community standards and core policies around hate speech, bullying, harassment, nudity and self-injury; the importance of reporting; privacy settings; and identifying false news and fake profiles.

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