Facebook has partnered with ‘s Project Rockit to fund a youth anti-bullying initiative.With young people spending more than three hours a day on social media, often behind a veil of anonymity, it’s no wonder cyber-bullying has infiltrated our lives.
Bullying affects around one in five n under-18s in any one year, according to various studies, with 84 per cent of those bullied in person also bullied online.
Research also tells us while shaming young people for negative online behaviour doesn’t work, giving them agency to unite with peers and engineer solutions to cyberbullying is much more effective.
To this end, Facebook and Instagram have announced they will channel $A1 million into an anti-cyber-bullying initiative in partnership with Project Rockit, an n youth-driven movement against bullying, hate and prejudice.
The program will build a network of 10,000 digital ambassadors who will lead social change against bullying online and offline in 600 schools across over 2019 and 2020. They will be students chosen by teachers according to Project Rockit criteria to ensure a diverse representation.
Lucy Thomas, who co-founded Project Rockit 12 years ago, says treating cyberbullying as a failure of technology actually removes people’s responsibility to do anything about it.
“Research shows peer-to-peer programs are the most effective because young people look to other young people for guidance and support,” she told AAP before the program’s launch event in Melbourne on Friday.
Digital ambassadors will be invited to attend a series of face-to-face, high-energy workshops in urban and regional areas where they will celebrate technology while teaching others to stand up and not stand by in the face of bullying.
An Online Action Hub will then provide ongoing education, tools and resources to reinforce core messages and spark school-based social action.
“We want our digital ambassadors to act as a social change bees, who are going to go back to their schools and pollinate,” said Thomas.
“They’re going to tackle hate, build empathy and share skills to create a kinder digital world.”
Facebook, which owns Instagram, is keen to reinforce how seriously it takes bullying.
“While it’s impossible to get rid of bullying entirely, it’s always something the company wants to push up against,” Antigone Davis, Facebook’s director and global head of safety, told AAP.
There are a number of ways users are already encouraged to help stamp out bullies. A tool allowing them to report bullies to the platform has been around for a while and a newer tool allows people to moderate comments below their post, either manually or via automatic filters.
Going forward, the company aims to be more transparent on what it’s doing to manage hate speech and eliminate fake accounts that harbour trolls.
Facebook works with 400 organisations around the world to promote online safety.
For more info and to nominate a school for the project, visit projectrockit苏州楼凤.au/digitalambassadors