With the announcement of Google’s Digital Garage extending its opening for a further six months, I was pleased to be able to visit again for their Internet Citizens Workshop. Young people from three youth groups were gathered for a series of discussions and games about how they could be responsible and resilient online.
I had chance to meet the committed staff running the workshops, who’ve travelled round the UK and held similar days in cities across the country – including two in Sheffield. They told me that they’d originally hosted the activities on internet citizenship online, but found it much more effective to engage with people face to face.
From my time as Shadow Digital Economy Minister I know the importance of tackling extremism online, and I was pleased to hear about YouTube’s plans, such as removing content which isn’t extreme, but comes close, from the recommended algorithm, and stripping it of advertising revenue. They’re also working on PHSE toolkits for school pupils aged 13-15 aimed at tackling fake news, hate speech and echo chambers in order to ensure young people question the content they come across on the internet, its agenda and its objective and don't simply take everything they see as fact.
I also spoke to some of the young people attending the workshop, and we had a good discussion about how we can improve the internet, starting with good online education.
Of course, there's still a lot more that the social media platforms can be doing to eradicate hateful and extremist content from their platforms and I'll be working on this over the coming months as the Government takes forward its Safer Internet Strategy.