Youth Policy Forum (YPF) and TikTok hosted their inaugural dialogue on 6 January to facilitate a safer virtual ecosystem for Bangladeshis internet users.
TikTok has partnered with YPF to create awareness around safe internet usage. TikTok is working with YPF to conduct a series of dialogues, campaigns and workshops to address public concerns and educate the users regarding responsible use of social media. The first set of dialogue "Towards a Digital Space" was held recently as a part of the "Safe Internet, Safe You" campaign.
A diverse panel consisting of Bangladesh Child Health Research Foundation Director and Scientist, Dr Senjuti Saha; Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto Assistant Professor, Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed; BRAC Youth Platform Curriculum and Material Development Specialist, Sakib Bin Rashid; and Founder and Executive Director of Supporting People and Rebuilding Communities(SPaRc), Muktasree Chakma Sathi, came together to discuss ways to maximise collective wellbeing in the digital era.
Sakib Bin Rashid recognised the fact that the lack of proactive regulatory bodies in the internet space was a threat to digital wellbeing.
"In our physical lives, we see law enforcement bodies come in during times of injustice to sustain order. We don't see that on the Internet," he noted.
Dr Senjuti Saha presented an easy-to-understand comparison. She hinted at how kids are taught at school all sorts of social etiquette, starting from table manners to general manners and how that is not at all prevalent online. She mentioned how there is no institutional teaching for digital etiquette, and that in this growing digital age, that can be a problem.
She said, "People need to understand that it doesn't matter whether you are behind a screen or sitting across the room from someone, "harassment is harassment, safety is safety, privacy is privacy."
Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed, adding a rather tech-related insight, shared how unmoderated access that any social media user has to anyone else's "visual diary" can pose a threat to someone's safety and wellbeing online. He mentioned content moderation as a solution.
"While moderating, we also need to maintain democratic and pluralistic values. We need content moderators to understand and respect the diverse socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds people come from. The idea that truth is the best solution isn't true either," he added.
Syed also stressed that our criminal justice institutions have still not adapted themselves to the digital world. "Digital crimes are very easy to document but people don't know who to report to or how to get justice," he added.
Muktasree Chakma Sathi pointed out that when it comes to content moderation for minorities, language is a key obstacle. "The algorithms of the tech companies are less efficient in detecting unsafe content in minority languages. Big Tech has to take responsibility for their failure to detect such contents and come up with better solutions," said Muktasree.
The panelists emphasised the importance of education to tackle the issue of digital safety. They also mentioned that the government needs to step up and improve the enforcement of digital laws. Alongside government institutions, private and non-profit organisations like YPF also have a key role to play here. The panelists mentioned that keeping people off the internet is no longer a viable solution. We need to use the digital space and learn to use it responsibly.