Advocates say kids’ Instagram product would ‘put young users at great risk’ 

  • An international coalition of children’s health advocates has called on Facebook to abandon its plans to build an Instagram product for kids, citing harm to teens from excessive use of social media. 
  • The campaign follows news that Facebook seeks to build an Instagram product for people under the age of 13. The company currently requires users to be 13 years or older to create an account. 
  • In a letter coordinated by the youth advocacy Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, over 20 groups and dozens of individual advocates and researchers say an Instagram for children would “put young users at great risk”  
  • They cite a “growing body of research” demonstrating the negative effects social media has on young people and called on Mark Zuckerberg to scrap the project. 
  • “Instagram, in particular, exploits young people’s fear of missing out and desire for peer approval to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers,” the letter says.
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Twitter begins analysing harmful impacts of its algorithms 

  • Twitter is starting a new initiative; ‘Responsible Machine Learning’, to assess any “unintentional harms” caused by its algorithms.  
  • A team of engineers, researchers, and data scientists across the company will study how Twitter’s use of machine learning can lead to algorithmic biases that negatively impact users. 
  • One of the first tasks is an assessment of racial and gender bias in Twitter’s image cropping algorithm.  
  • Twitter users have pointed out that its auto-cropped photo previews seem to favour white faces over Black faces.  
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  • For more information on Algorithms and how they can affect children and young people, read our recent article here.

A-levels should be replaced with a broader baccalaureate, says thinktank 

  • A-levels are too narrow and should be replaced with a three-year “baccalaureate” that covers all academic, applied and technical courses, according to a new report by the EDSK education think tank. 
  • As part of the proposed changes, all students would be required to study English and maths up to the age of 18, in line with other developed nations. 
  • Rather than narrowing choices down to three A-level subjects at the age of 16, the baccalaureate would allow students to retain more breadth in their studies and only gradually specialise over the three-year programme.
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        UN urges government to ban ‘chilling’ conversion therapy 

        • ITV News reports the United Nations has urged the UK government to ban the practice of so called ‘conversion’ therapy. 
        • Addressing MPs on Thursday, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, said that attempts to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity were “haunting” and “chilling”. 
        • As the world’s most senior authority on religious rights, Dr Shaheed said a ban would not violate freedom of religion or belief under international law, because of the harm involved in conversion therapy. 
        • He told MPs: “the testimonies of survivors of conversion practices are chilling. 
        • For the full story, select here.