Online Safety Summit India calls for collective solutions
Online Safety Summit, Mumbai edition put the spotlight on the importance of creating digital awareness among people. When it comes to use of digital media, awareness is rarely a word which comes to our mind first. But if various panelists are to be believed, it should be a top priority for us. Amidst the hunger to get more attention on social media, we have been overlooking the issue of safety on such platforms to a large extent.
Does this negligence play a big part in propagating abuse of women on digital platforms?
Does this negligence play a big part in propagating abuse of women on digital platforms? Do we become more prone to consuming fake news, due to this lack of awareness? Moreover, does lack of knowledge make women more susceptible to online sexual abuse? Various panelists at the summit revealed this oversight to us and have made us question our negligence to our own online safety.
Do we become more prone to consuming fake news, due to this lack of awareness?
While it is easy to blame online predators, we must accept that in a society there will always be people who have antisocial activities on their mind, both in real and virtual world.
Thus the onus of ensuring our own safety falls on us to an extent too. Actions like precariously posting pictures of children in school uniforms or giving away your current whereabouts and routines can put us in physical danger. Hence online caution also ensures our safety in the real world. Which is why each one of us should be equipped with the knowledge of steps we can take to ensure our digital safety. As it necessary to our well being in more ways than one.
- Online Safety Summit, Mumbai edition put the spotlight on the importance of creating awareness.
- It is easy to blame online predators for their behaviour. But we must accept that there will always be people on social media who have antisocial activities on their mind.
- Thus the onus of ensuring our own safety falls on us to an extent too.
Speaking on challenges face to ensure online safety, cyber safety expert Akancha Srivastava pointed out, “The moment people have knowledge, they feel empowered.” Knowledge about various laws in place to protect us from online abuse is the key to empowerment of women in virtual world. So is the knowledge of the fact that help is just an ask away. This is especially critical when those struggling with online safety are young wards. In today’s day and age most parents struggle with keeping social media usage among their children in check. Despite our best efforts they fall prey to digital crimes like cyber bullying, sexual abuse and even trolling.
Also seemingly harmless problems like failure to concentrate, low self-esteem and anxiety, stemming from excessive and obsessive use of social media affect kids’ well-being in a very bad way.
Co-director of Akshara Foundation Nandita Shah said, “Especially among girls from marginalised sections of the society, the knowledge aspect is completely missing but there is a sense of identity, when it comes to using social media.” Snatching mobile phone is not the solution here. What parents can do is to become allies of their children in digital space. Here the knowledge of their rights and that they have backing of their parents helps children tackle virtual world with much more confidence.
But how many adults themselves can confidently say that they know their rights? That they are well-versed with laws and acts put into play to protect us? How many can separate fact from fiction? When it comes to the hoard of fake news that keeps circulating on social media. This fake news not only spreads false information but also sends people into panic. As a result of which many people often take law in their own hands, harming innocent people, all because of lies they ended up believing from fake forwarded messages. Thus there is an immediate need to create awareness among people to cross check all the news they consume via forwarded messages.
Boom Fact Check website’s managing editor, Jency Jacob quipped, “WhatsApp is not your news media.”
Being the secondary gender in this society, often it is the women who are victims of digital crimes. One of the most common one being the flurry of sexual abuse which is thrown our way in the name of trolling. Blame it on male entitlement or misogyny in Indian culture. But men always end up taking cultural, political or social clash into realm of sexual abuse. It is as if making rape threats against women is the only way they know to have the last word in a virtual argument with any woman.
To counter it every woman must be armed with knowledge of legal and virtual actions she can take against trolls. Also, they must be persistent in their drive for equality. An equal society where virtues of feminism are accepted and upheld by all is the only way women can trump gendered abuse. As author Tara Kaushal put it, “Gender violence is going to keep increasing until we have gender equality. So women need to keep reclaiming there spaces both online and offline.”
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.