By Anthony Doherty, Windows Business Group Lead, Microsoft
In the cloud-first, mobile-first era, students, parents, and teachers are empowered to accomplish more by tapping into the power of the Internet, social networks, data analytics and mobile devices. However, online safety concerns still remain for both parents as well as educators and caregivers due to the mix of old and new threats such as virtual bullying, plagiarism, cybercrime, gambling and even kidnapping, resulting in the need for risk awareness and smart online habits to be re-emphasized.
Toward that end, Microsoft highlighted a few new resources via a blogpost by Jacqueline Beauchere - Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer. These resources have been created for parents, caregivers and educators on some important topics in online safety, including teaching young people about misinformation and hate speech online, educating them about the dangers of “sexting,” and helping them respond to incidents of cyber harassment.
To complement our existing factsheet on teen sexting written for parents, last year the Youth Advisory Board of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation created a sexting factsheet for us geared toward youths. At Microsoft, we see sexting as a significant and unsavoury gateway through which young people can be exposed to a range of negative online content and experiences. So, we’re raising awareness, partnering with others on research and other projects, and generally encouraging good digital behaviour.
Microsoft announced the removal of sexual imagery of victims of “revenge porn” from OneDrive as well as Xbox Live. We have also denied access via Bing to those images, when those victims make known to us the existence of such content on our services. December saw the highest number of removal requests made to us to-date, with the vast majority of those cases being accepted and addressed. Accordingly, for the foreseeable future we’ll continue to make available our dedicated Web reporting form for non-consensual pornography.
Microsoft has received some 180,000 customer calls concerning tech-support fraud since May 2014. We have also taken a first major step in fighting back by filing a federal lawsuit against two companies. In addition, international law enforcement agencies are making this a priority for action. This is another area ripe for consumer education and awareness, so we teamed with AARP to help spread the word. (See, http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2015/scams-and-frauds-to-avoid.html) That message needs to continue to circulate in 2016.
The start of a new year brings a fresh opportunity to become more online and technology savvy by amongst others taking stock of one’s online habits and practices. Here’s to a happy, healthy and safe 2016, both online and off.
To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to online safety and encouraging good digital citizenship, visit our website: www.microsoft.com/saferonline.