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It is fantastic to once again see Safer Internet Day taking place here in the UK – and around the world. It is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the work being undertaken by organisations across the spectrum to help keep people safe online. Safer Internet Day also provides us with a dedicated day to encourage conversations about our online lives, and share proactive tools and resources to help build our digital skills and literacy.

This is of great importance as we head into a new decade. In short, the internet continues to open up a world of information and opportunity. Research released today by the UK Safer Internet Centre showed that 34% of young people had been recently inspired to take action about a cause, with 43% saying that being online makes them feel their voices matter. It is also encouraging to see that the vast majority of parents (93%) are speaking with their families about staying safe online.

For internet companies, taking digital safety seriously is of huge importance. We understand that there are concerns around how some products and services are used, and are more determined than ever to help boost digital safety. Nobody wants the internet to be a place where anyone feels unsafe, or users are misled.

Internet companies actively work to ensure digital safety is a priority. By investing significant resources in both human content moderation and, partnering with third sector organisations and think tanks, developing machine-learning technology to detect and remove harmful material more quickly, they are committed to delivering safe and secure platforms for all.

The numbers involved show significant action is being taken. For example, Facebook has tripled the size of its safety and security team to 35,000 people, and across the board industry is investing significant resources in human content moderation. Improvements in technology have also played a key role: in Q2 and Q3 2019, over 98% of terrorist material removed by Facebook was identified before users reported it; and in Q1 and Q2 2019 over half of tweets that Twitter took action on for abuse were proactively identified using technology – compared to 1 in 5 tweets in 2018.

There is also an important role for education in improving digital safety. Initiatives such as Google’s Be Internet Legends or Twitter’s partnership with UNESCO on media literacy help guide behaviour and better enable people to safely engage online. These programmes have a wide reach, for example since March 2018 Be Internet Legends has trained over 1.3 million young people in the UK through assemblies or teachers.

Positive working partnerships have also been formed with a number of third party organisations across the globe, including the Internet Watch Foundation and the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, and are helping ensure that there is a joined up approach to digital safety.

But it is also important to understand the scale of online content. Every day, around 570,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook, 500 million new Tweets are added, and 2 billion WhatsApp messages are sent. 

Through initiatives like Safer Internet Day, we can work together – as an industry and with government, third parties, and wider society – to inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, and safely. 

We are delighted to support Safer Internet Day, and look forward to working throughout 2020 and beyond to build a safer internet for all.