01 FEB 2018

Staying Safe Online

Kent Messenger Column – 01-02-18 

For those of us of a certain generation, the pace of technological change has been a mainstay of our adult lives. It is mind boggling to think that the computer which used to occupy a whole room now pales into insignificance compared to the power of the machine in our pockets.

Technology has brought huge advantages; developing the world's poorest countries, creating jobs and advancing medical treatment. However, like any seismic change there are dangers associated with it which must be mitigated.

The Prime Minister used her time in Davos last week to call upon internet companies to take a more robust approach to removing extremist content from their platforms. Giant social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp must take responsibility and act to ensure that they are not a safe haven for vile, hate filled language which incites or inspires violence.

Furthermore, as a Mother to two boys who grew up during the noughties, I am acutely aware of parental concern about the online safety of our children. The NSPCC have called upon technology giants to introduce an algorithm which would help root out those who wish to use technological advancement to cause harm. If the tech companies' commitment to implementing lasting and global protection is to be believed, this suggestion must be taken seriously. If not, then Governments across the world may have to take a tougher stance.

I know of deeply upsetting circumstances in Maidstone and the Weald where young people have been exploited or harassed online. These experiences cause great distress to individuals and their families, and sometimes even result in self harm or suicide. We can do our bit within our communities to raise awareness of the potential dangers and look out for those who may be vulnerable to online predators.

By working together, business, Government and our local communities can reap the benefits of technology whilst keeping our families safe.

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