Is it possible that the internet is being taken back by a silent majority who is finally making its voice heard, expressing its dismay about internet safety and the shocking content found on some platforms.
Following some menacing threats from the British Government, Health Secretary Matt Hancock pressured Facebook into announcing that Instagram would intervene and take down self-harm content.
Is this the start of something big or simply a cynical defense move?
This is a victory for both the UK Health Secretary and parents everywhere, and is a far more meaningful endeavor than France’s blanket ban on phones in schools. This is Instagram - finally taking account for content displayed on its platform and demonstrating willingness to intervene when it is necessary.
One father in particular, Ian Russell, has pursued Instagram after discovering his 14 year old daughter Molly’s suicidal state of mind on her page following her death. He says social media platforms abetted her suicide hosting inappropriate content on their targeting engines.
Following the UK Health Secretary’s call and a consultation with mental health and suicide prevention experts, Facebook announced that Instagram will ban and remove graphic images of self-harm.
Some of the content being removed includes images and videos of cutting and other forms of self-harm injuries. However, there is no news on what they might do about making contact with the Police, the NHS, or intervening when people openly express interest in self-harm and suicide on social media.
Instagram built its popularity on ease, speed and most of all being fun to use without the accompanying wickedness, toxicity, trolling and nastiness that plagues Snapchat.
Facebook wants to stay bully free which is why they have implemented new anti-bullying features – hopefully reducing the amount of cyberbullying currently taking place on its platform.
In addition, parents can play a part in their children’s internet safety by using parental control software which allows them to monitor internet usage and block inappropriate content, limit internet usage during the week and on weekends.
This software is affordably available in some of the most popular anti-virus products including BitDefender, F Secure SAFE, Kaspersky - while mobile phone brands such as iPhone and Samsung Galaxy have built in parental control features which can be easily activated.
Insisting that Government bring these social media platforms to heal is not enough, parents and guardians need to become more involved. Internet safety must be spoken about at home and in the classroom – a collective effort from parents, teachers and government can lead to positive changes both online and offline.
Facebook bought Instagram for a measly $1billion in 2010 in one the smartest acquisitions ever, new boss Adam Mosseri, plans to maintain Instagram's positive, friendly attitude to the world. The new "Kindness Camera Effect," which fills the screen with hearts in selfie-mode and invites you to tag a friend you support being a good example of this.
Government needs to provide a regulation environment providing guidance to search engines and social media. Data is the new oil and it is simply too tempting for these enormous companies to chase profit, growth and new users.
And it’s not just self-harm, suicides etc. that need attention, the silent majority wants controls introduced over hate speech, fake news, online abuse etc.
Facebook says 30,000 people have been hired to work on safety issues. However, we don’t know if this includes content moderation. For as every newspaper, news man and radio presenter will tell you they are accountable for their words and actions, but internet companies are not liable for content posted on their platforms.
After five bad years online for the silent majority, there may be a glimmer of hope at last. The tide has not turned but it is a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done.
Content moderation is a necessary next step if we wish to reduce online bullying, threats, hate speech and more.
Additionally, internet safety needs to be spoken about in schools and at home.
We provide interesting internet safety talks for kids, teens and business – talking about the real issues facing each of the groups.
Contact us for more information about our safety talks – we have spoken at several schools around the UK and have received great feedback.
Our talks will ensure your child’s safety online.