Warning over sexual content and ‘friend requests’ from strangers on Roblox

  • A warning by the Family Information Service in Middlesbrough has been issued about harmful sexual content and stranger friend requests on Roblox.
  • The concerns outline worrying accounts of children being exposed to sexual content and messages from strangers.
  • Reports claim that younger children are being exposed to virtual online dating (OD’ing) and exposure to sexualised content with in-game characters simulating sexual acts.
  • This follows our safeguarding update about harmful content on Roblox earlier this week.
  • Full story, here.

UK data watchdog criticises government campaign

  • The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is criticising a Home Office-backed campaign against the rollout of ultra-secure messaging apps by social media firms.
  • The No Place to Hide campaign maintains that Facebook should abandon plans for end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in its Messenger app.
  • The ICO argues that the technology strengthens children’s online safety and that a delay “leaves everyone at risk, including children”.
  • The ICO’s executive claims that E2EE helps keep children safe online by not allowing criminals and abusers to send harmful content or access their pictures or location.
  • The discussion on E2EE is “too unbalanced” to make a choice.
  • Full story, here.

How Instagram are addressing potentially harmful content

  • Instagram are making changes to the Instagram feed and implementing measures to proactively limit the reach of harmful content.
  • This aims to prevent posts which ‘likely’ violate its rules around hate speech, bullying and the incitement of violence from spreading.
  • Content that could be potentially upsetting will appear lower in the Feed based on a user’s reporting history.
  • Instagram will consider what users are likely to report to personalise feeds.
  • Instagram will also be comparing captions to the captions of previously banned posts.
  • Full story, here.

TikTok is Testing new, integrated ‘Stories’

  • TikTok is testing a Stories feature which would integrate TikTok Stories into the main ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ feeds in the app.
  • Stories creation would be implemented into the main feed, making them another content option for creators.
  • Stories are currently in a separate section on the left of the screen sidebar, which diverts users from the main feed.
  • There is no date specified for a wider release yet.
  • For more information on TikTok, check out our safety card.
  • Full story, here.

Twitter brings NFTs to the timeline as hexagon-shaped profile pictures

  • Some users on Twitter are being prompted to add an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) as a profile picture.
  • This would be displayed in a hexagonal format and provide a direct link to the NFTs listing on a blockchain as proof of ownership.
  • This is part of Twitter’s goal to integrate NFTs into the app and make it easier users to display their ownership of an NFT.
  • The feature is linked to each NFTs official information to ensure only the actual owner is displaying it as a profile picture.
  • Users with a ‘Twitter Blue’ subscription can access the feature if they own an iOS device.
  • To learn more about NFTs, check out our blog post.
  • Full story, here.

UK pupils taught about alcohol with ‘misleading’ industry-funded resources

  • A study has found that schools are using “misleading and biased” information materials to educate pupils as young as nine about drinking.
  • The materials are funded by the alcohol industry and include lesson plans, factsheets, and films.
  • The materials are intended to deter young people from underage drinking, but they are potentially harmful.
  • They downplay the harms alcohol can cause and seek to “blame-shift” responsibility for problems from manufacturers on to young people.
  • Full story, here.

Education department to get £40m in Stormont funding boost

  • The Department of Education is to get an extra £40m from the reallocation of money across Stormont departments.
  • A large part of the education money is for coronavirus pandemic pressures including the cost of using substitute teachers.
  • The funding also includes £18.4m for special educational needs.
  • Finance minister, Conor Murphy MLA, claims that “If further bids to meet urgent priorities come forward from departments, further allocations can be made”.
  • Full story, here.