Sunday 17 February 2019

Facebook to triple investment into online safety programmes in Ireland

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: AP
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg. Photo: AP
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Facebook is tripling its investment in online safety programmes in Ireland as part of its partnership with the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) at Dublin City University (DCU).

It will bring the company’s total spend on online safety programmes in Ireland to one million euro.

The extra contribution was announced during a visit to DCU by Facebook Chief Operations Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who conceded during her visit to the university that Facebook had not done enough in the past about online safety.

Most of the funding will be spent on expanding a previously-announced, three-year training programme for teachers and parents of 12-17 year olds in post-primary schools around the country.

The programme, which is being rolled out from now,  includes face-to–face workshops and online modules to give participants the confidence and skills to identify and understand bullying and to support teenagers around online safety.

When it  was originally announced  in October, Facebook committed €330,000 to the project.

ABC director Professor James O’Higgins Norman said the additional investment meant that the programme could be offered free to every post primary school, while they could also provide additional resources and “deliver it in a more effective way”.

Prof O’Higgins Norman said “children often feel that raising an online safety issue with parents or teachers will make things worse. We want to develop in teachers and parents the skills that will help them to convey that they are confident and knowledgeable and that they will make things better”.

Some of the money will also go towards supporting research conducted by ABC, and creating online safety resources for teens in partnership with the youth information website, SpunOut.ie.

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