Social media drives the news of the day. This fact becomes more and more apparent as news organizations create reports from stories and videos that originate from Twitter or Facebook. The way we socialize, advocate, and broadcast our lives through these tools has become second nature to us. While these items were created with the best intentions there have been a number of negative consequences. Internet trolls have created accounts devoted solely for the purpose of bullying others. In October, Twitter has had such a bad image due to their harassment problems they were unable to keep prospective buyers interested in them (The Guardian). Depressed users have used social media livestreams to publicly take their own lives. There were 3 cases reported within the span of about a month (New York Post).
Twitter and Facebook have started taking steps to remedy these situations. Twitter announced last week that they would be taking steps to reduce harassment by allowing users to block certain users and words from their feed and block individuals who have not chosen a picture to replace the default egg (Recode). These changes are in addition to the ability for users to verify their accounts, which came out this past summer (The Verge).
In June 2016, Facebook released tools that would enable users to report suicidal posts to Facebook, who would then equip the reporter with ways to help that individual in hopes of preventing self injury or suicide (The New York Times). Now Facebook is releasing these tools for use during livestream videos and working to introduce Artificial Intelligence that will pick up these types of behavior (Business Insider).
The news that these companies are taking these steps to ensure the safety of their users is something that should be shared with students. The articles linked above, along with others, can provide a good beginning to discussions about the use of social media and how users of these platforms can fight the negative that other users put out. Students won't stop using these tools any time soon, nor should they. To live in today's world, students will need to learn how to use these tools positively.
WARNING: Please, look through articles for your students before diving into this with them. I am an advocate for having students do their own research, but keep in mind that most of the suicide videos are still out there and viewable. At least have that conversation with students before you put them online to search for these topics specifically.
Parent, Educator, Technology Lover