Google has launched a new series of workshops which aim to teach teenagers how to tackle “fake news” and “hate speech.”
“Internet Citizens” will be run by Google’s YouTube in cities across the United Kingdom for those between the ages of 13 and 18. The workshops “are intended to raise awareness around issues such as tolerance, empathy and abuse online,” according to The Guardian.
“Nearly all of us will have come across comments or content online that shocked or even offended us, sometimes leaving us feeling isolated or powerless to change the conversation,” said YouTube’s head of public policy, Naomi Gummer. “And for young people in particular, this sense of vulnerability can be heightened if it’s difficult to judge whether a piece of content is real, especially when something is shared on social media by a trusted friend. That’s why we’re launching Internet Citizens.”
“This is just one part of our commitment to a better web… Alongside this, we are exploring more innovative ways to use technology; to partner with experts to help us tackle hate speech online and we are taking a hard look at our policies around offensive content,” she continued, adding, “We’ll share more updates on these areas in the coming weeks.”
UK Youth, a charity who helped develop the workshops with YouTube, claimed that through the initiative they want to help “make the internet a positive place” and empower young people to “express themselves.”
“Young people in the UK spend more time online than ever before. In this complex world, there is an urgent need to help young people embrace the positive aspects of connectivity, but we must also support them to manage the negative effects,” proclaimed UK Youth’s chief executive, Anna Smee. “Through Internet Citizens, UK Youth is empowering young people to express themselves, have a voice, listen to others and ultimately gain a sense of belonging by discovering the skills needed to act safely and responsibly online, and make the internet a positive place.”
In March, Google pledged to crack down on “offensive” and “extremist” content on the platform, after hundreds of large advertisers withdrew from the site.
Companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, The BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4, Toyota, McDonald’s, and even the British Government all withdrew adverts from Google-owned sites, claiming to be “deeply concerned” about their adverts appearing alongside content on YouTube promoting “hate.”
Google also took heat from the UK Home Affairs Select Committee last month, who claimed the company was being too “soft” on “hate speech.”