There are few issues more pressing than the protection of children online, and this week, Facebook has joined a new coalition of tech companies that will work together to combat child exploitation via digital platforms.
As explained by Facebook:
"Child exploitation is a problem across the internet, and it’s our collective responsibility – from social media and messaging services to cloud services and gaming platforms, as well as device makers and internet service providers – to fight this abuse and protect kids online. [...] But any industry-wide problem requires solutions broader than just one company – we need a robust international effort to combat this problem."
The new 'Project Protect' group includes representatives from Google, Microsoft and 15 other tech companies, who will work together on a range of initiatives to ensure better detection of, and action against child exploitation online.
Among the various areas of focus, Facebook says that Project Protect will look at:
- Tech Innovation - Accelerating the development and usage of groundbreaking technology to support the cross-industry approach powered by a multi-million dollar innovation fund
- Collective Action - Convening tech companies, governments and civil society to create a holistic approach to tackle this issue
- Independent Research - Funding research with the End Violence Against Children Partnership to advance our collective understanding of the experiences and patterns of child sexual exploitation and abuse online, and learn from effective efforts to prevent, deter and combat it
- Information and Knowledge Sharing - Continue to facilitate high-impact information, expertise and knowledge sharing among companies to help prevent and disrupt child sexual exploitation and abuse online
- Transparency and Accountability - Increasing accountability and consistency across the industry through meaningful reporting of child sexual exploitation and abuse content across member platforms and services. This will be done in conjunction with WePROTECT Global Alliance.
The grouping of these tech giants on collaborative efforts to address such concerns is a major step, and will help to accelerate and expand the broader effort.
Facebook already has a range of systems and processes in place across its apps in order to detect such behavior, but the combined resource approach will ensure optimal development, helping them stay a step ahead of emerging operations.
Again, this is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and with more kids now spending even more time online amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, which could form trends that stem into the future, now is the time to expand operations on this front.
You can read more about 'Project Protect' here.