Safer Internet Day is an internationally-observed event designed to promote safer and more responsible internet use among young people. It’s observed every year on February 6 and has been around since 2004.
The theme for 2024’s Safer Internet Day is “inspiring change, making a difference, managing influence, and navigating change online.”
Why does it matter?
This year’s Safer Internet Day comes at a critical time for internet safety around the world.
The UK’s Online Safety Act, which puts the onus on tech companies to protect children from inappropriate legal content, became a law in October 2023 — but there are concerns that it doesn’t go far enough.
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe were recently convicted of the murder of Brianna Ghey, a young transgender teen. Both 15 at the time, the killers were able to access torture content on the dark web. This led to Esther Ghey, Brianna’s mother, launching a petition to ban social media apps from minors’ phones, as well as making mobile companies more legally responsible for children’s online welfare.
Simultaneous to this, over in the US, the Senate held a hearing with a number of the Big Tech CEOs regarding children’s online safety.
During the emotionally charged hearing, the CEOs of platforms like TikTok, Snap, X, Discord, and we won’t soon forget the dressing-down of Mark Zuckerberg (Meta), who was told he has “blood on [his/their] hands” because of their purported inaction in the face of the exploitation, bullying, grooming, and other harmful content young people are exposed to online.
This hearing was part of ongoing conversations about the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) and tougher laws around internet safety in general. In short, the proposed law purports to protect young people from ads and other content that promote eating disorders, self-harm, violence, and suicide.