Instagram surpasses 2 billion monthly users  

  • Instagram has reached more than 2 billion monthly active users worldwide.  
  • The last time the Instagram’s user numbers were made public was in June 2018, when the platform crossed the 1 billion users’ threshold.  
  • This milestone has been achieved at a time of heightened scrutiny, intense competition from rival platform TikTok and the introduction of tougher online safety regulations. 
  • Check out our Instagram safety card, here.  
  • Full story, here.  

 Twitter introduces automatic captions for videos 

  • Twitter is now rolling out automatic captions for videos, these will be available globally and in ‘most languages,’ according to the platform.  
  • These captions will only appear on new videos uploaded to Twitter and there is currently no way to report inaccurate captions.  
  • This follows scrutiny of the platform for not having a dedicated team responsible for accessibility after they released voice tweets in 2020 without captions.  
  • Check out our Twitter safety card, here.  
  • Full story, here.  

So called ‘revenge porn soars after lockdown  

  • Figures released from the Revenge Porn Helpline (RPH) show that reports of image-based abuse have nearly doubled in the space of a year.  
  • Calls to the RPH amounted to 3,146 in 2020, compared to 1,680 in 2019.  
  • Lockdown is said to have created a ‘pressure cooker’ for abusive relationships.  
  • Cases of sexual extortion – the blackmailing of victims by criminal gangs, usually involving money, had also tripled in this period.  
  • RPH findings show that men were five times more likely to be a victim of sexual extortion, with 600 cases reported last year compared to 200 in 2019.  
  • A female victim of image-based abuse will have 42 images of themselves shared non-consensually online, whilst this figure stood at less than two for male victims.  
  • Full story, here. 

 2.1 million young people at risk of digital exclusion in the UK  

  • A report published by Nominet explored digital access, inclusion, digital skills, safety online and physical and mental wellbeing. 
  • The survey captured responses from 2,000 8- to 25-year-olds and collected findings from conversations with parents, schools, social workers, and youth workers.  
  • Findings show that 2.1 million young people are at risk of digital exclusion in the UK.  
  • 32% of 17–19-year-olds say the internet has a negative impact on their mental health and 44% of young people say they feel isolated.  
  • To read the full report, click here.  
  • Full story, here.  

Star Hobson: The short life and death of a beloved toddler  

(Please note this story contains graphic descriptions and sensitive material that readers may find upsetting) 

  • Savannah Brockhill, partner of Star Hobson’s mother, Frankie Smith, has been found guilty of the murder of the 16-month-old.  
  • Smith was also found guilty of causing and allowing the toddler’s death – the pair will be sentenced today.  
  • Star was gradually isolated from her loving family members and subjected to severe physical abuse, coercive control, and psychological torture.  
  • Star eventually died of her injuries in September 2021 in her mother’s flat in West Yorkshire.  
  • A joint statement has been issues by the Bradford Safeguarding Partnership and A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review is due to be published in January 2022.  
  • Full story, here.  

 Plan needed for schools’ safe return after Christmas  

  • Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, is being urged to put together an emergency plan that ensure schools can remain open after the Christmas break.  
  • The Department of Education had previously stated that there were no plans to close schools early for Christmas.  
  • However, schools are facing a staffing crisis due to the unavailability of staff and substitute teachers with the new COVID-19 Omicron variant 
  • Daniel McCrossan MLA, has suggested that a reserve list of qualified teachers, classroom assistants, administrative staff, and cleaners should be drawn up.  
  • Other factors should be considered such as the reintroduction of mitigations, cleaning regimes and ventilation. 
  • This follows a call from The Teaching union, NASUWT, to stagger the return of pupils to school in the new year.  
  • Full story, here.