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November 8, 2023

Google, Meta, Discord and more team up to fight child abuse online

  • A new cross-platform information sharing program called Lantern aims to fight online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA).
  • Lantern will work to keep predators from directing minors to other platforms for exploitation.
  • Tech companies involved in this cross-platform signal sharing between online companies, include Meta, Google and Discord.
  • Lantern will serve as a central database for companies to contribute data and check their own platforms against it.
  • When companies see signals known as OCSEA policy-violating email addresses or usernames, child sexual abuse material (CSAM) hashes or CSAM keywords, they can flag them in their own systems.
  • Whilst signals don’t strictly prove abuse, they help companies investigate and potentially take action.
  • For more, please visit the Verge website.

Guidance urges Irish parents not to buy smartphones for primary school children

  • New guidance urging parents not to buy smartphones for their primary school age children is set to be introduced.
  • If the guidance is approved, it will be sent to all primary schools in Ireland.
  • The guidance is based on a project involving eight schools in Greystones in Co Wicklow that saw parents of primary school pupils unanimously agree not to buy smartphones for them.
  • Education Minister Norma Foley’s proposal was prompted by concerns around the potential exposure of younger children to cyber bullying, violent and sexual content and other harmful content on phones.
  • The minister’s party leader, Tanaiste Micheal Martin supports the guidance.
  • For more, please visit the Irish News website.

Former Meta employee tells Senate company failed to protect teens safety

  • A former Meta employee testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, alleging that the company was aware of harassment and other harms facing young people on its platforms but failed to address them.
  • The employee, Arturo Bejar, worked on well-being for Instagram from 2019-2021.
  • Prior to this he was a director for engineering for Facebook’s Protect and Care team from 2009-2015.
  • He said that “it’s time that the public and parents understand the true level of harm posed by these ‘products’ and it’s time that young users have the tools to report and suppress online abuse”.
  • His testimony comes following a push in Congress to pass legislation that would require social media platforms to provide parents with tools to protect children online.
  • For more, please visit the Reuters website.

The following story may be regionalised:

Local agencies struggle to prioritise early help for children and families

  • Ofsted, the CQC and HMICFRS have published a joint report on the multi-agency response to children and families who need help.
  • The report draws on the inspections of five local authority areas to evaluate how local partners and wider services work together to support children and families who need help.
  • Findings of the report showed early help was effective where all leaders understood how to meet the needs of their local areas and worked with partners and local communities to make services accessible. It also found that local partners were not equally engaged in delivering and making decisions about the early help services in their area.
  • Additionally, there were well-trained and knowledgeable early help workers from various agencies undertaking effective work with children and families. However, staff were increasingly working with high complex family situations and above the level they felt was appropriate.
  • Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care stated: “Prioritising early help is a real challenge for local areas” but “The excellent work we saw during these inspections, where local partners engaged and developed services tailored to their communities’ needs, should become expected practice.”
  • For more, please visit the GOV.UK website.