Safer Internet Day

First published on: 4th February 2019

"The mantra of social media companies that they only provide a platform and are not responsible for content must be challenged, again and again" writes Bishop Simon Burton-Jones on Safer Internet Day.

This year, Safer Internet Day (5 February), focuses on the importance of young people giving free and informed consent to their engagements online.

Read Bishop Simon's comments in full here

Bishop Simon continues that it is particularly striking that this year, it coincides with the:distressing story of Molly Russell, the fourteen year old girl who took her life after viewing shocking images of self-harm online. 

"Her family believe that social media outlets like Instagram and Pinterest made Molly’s depression more acute with the deployment of algorithms that fed her things no girl of her age should have to see.

"The algorithms are, in the truest sense, amoral; lacking any ethical structure in which children can be safeguarded online...This might be harmless for some, but for others it is not.  To the Russells, it was a matter of life and death.  No child gives meaningful consent to this kind of exposure and any debate about consent must address this question."

Suggesting that political intervention is called for, he also suggests that neither is the current crisis in young people’s mental health purely the fault or responsibility of Silicon Valley:

"Mental health services have been cut back severely, leaving many young people waiting months for treatment when getting to the end of the day is a mountain in itself.  Voluntary bodies, including churches, have thinking to do around the contribution they can make to well-being."

Read Bishop Simon's commenst in full here.

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