Google’s latest initiative to promote the internet as a safe and positive place for everyone is Internet Citizens, a series of workshops aimed at schooling U.K. kids ages 13-18 year on how to combat issues like fake news, echo chambers, and offensive speech.
The program is being run by YouTube, and the curriculum was designed in collaboration with a number of local organizations, including the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, U.K. Youth, and Livity.
“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 Google U.K.’s head of policy, Naomi Gummer. “For young people in particular, this sense of vulnerability can be heightened, especially when something is shared on social media by a trusted friend.”
Internet companies have been ramping up their efforts to combat the spread of fake news and online abuse in recent times. Back in February, Google and Facebook teamed up to help French newsrooms combat fake news ahead of the presidential election, while Facebook recently announced it was offering its users tips on how to spot fake news. And earlier this month Google announced it was opening its “Fact Check” tag to publishers globally to help them verify online sources as legitimate.
Through this new series of workshops, Google is again trying to position itself as a positive force in the online information sharing realm, as it looks to “help young people find a positive sense of belonging online” while teaching them “skills on how to participate safely and responsibly.” This will include how to use tools to flag and moderate comments on YouTube, as well as ways to encourage diverse groups to “come together.”
YouTube will be taking its program around various youth clubs across the U.K. over the next few months, after a few weeks of testing the workshop in Liverpool, and will now look at ways to work with more organizations to scale the initiative.
“Alongside this, we’re exploring more innovative ways to use technology and to partner with experts to help us tackle hate speech online,” added Gummer.