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January 10, 2024

Content about suicide, self-harm and eating disorders to be hidden from kids on Instagram and Facebook 

  • Meta has announced measures to conceal content related to suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders on Instagram and Facebook for users under 18.
  • New rules ensure that even if shared by someone they follow, individuals under 18 won’t see such content on their feeds.
  • Instead, mental health resources from charities will be displayed when users post about self-harm or eating disorders.
  • Young people on Instagram and Facebook are now placed in the most restrictive content control setting, reducing their exposure to sensitive content.
  • The updates will be implemented gradually in the coming months.
  • Andy Burrows, an adviser to the Molly Rose Foundation, reported: “While Meta’s policy changes are welcome, the vast majority of harmful content currently available on Instagram isn’t covered by this announcement, and the platform will continue to recommend substantial amounts of dangerous material to children.”
  • The charity found that nearly half of the highly engaged posts under prominent suicide and self-harm hashtags on Instagram in November glorified or referenced suicide and self-harm, suicidal ideation, and themes of misery, hopelessness, or depression.
  • For more, please visit the Yahoo News website.

TikTok Quietly Curtails Data Tool Used by Critics 

  • TikTok has quietly limited the Creative Center tool, designed for advertisers to track popular hashtags, following its misuse by researchers and lawmakers examining content related to geopolitics and the Israel-Hamas war.
  • The tool, accessible to anyone, previously allowed users to generate figures on the number of videos linked to a specific hashtag and details about the audience viewing those videos.
  • As of last week, there has been the removal of the “search” button and links for hashtags related to the war, aimed at preventing misuse.
  • Alex Haurek, a company spokesman reported: “Unfortunately, some individuals and organisations have misused the Center’s search function to draw inaccurate conclusions, so we are changing some of the features to ensure it is used for its intended purpose.”
  • The Network Contagion Research Institute at Rutgers University, which tracks misinformation and extremism online, flagged the changes last week.
  • For more, please visit the New York Times website.

Charity calls for action after child sexual offence reports reach 16-year high in Northern Ireland 

  • The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) documented the highest-ever number of offences against children under 18, with 2,315 recorded, according to NSPCC figures—the highest in nearly two decades of data tracking.
  • The report, based on Freedom of Information requests, reveals statistics on rape, sexual assault, grooming, and exploitation, predominantly impacting children aged 11-15.
  • The NSPCC is urgently advocating for immediate action, emphasising the need for increased funding for prevention programs, enhanced victim support, and more robust law enforcement measures.
  • In response to these concerning figures, the NSPCC has collaborated with the Home Office to launch a new campaign aimed at addressing child sexual abuse.
  • Responding to the figures, Kam Thandi, Helpline Director at the NSPCC, reported: “This new Helpline campaign, in partnership with the Home Office, will encourage the general public and professionals to reach out with concerns about child sexual abuse. All of us must play our part in protecting children.”
  • For more, please visit the Belfast Telegraph website.