The 13th Internet Governance Forum, an annual event for global leaders in internet governance to discuss policies and exchange information about the internet and new technology, was held in Paris, France on November 12-14th. Some of the major themes discussed were Cybersecurity, Trust & Privacy, Development, Innovation & Economic Issues, Digital Inclusion & Accessibility, Emerging Technologies, Evolution of Internet Governance, Human Rights, Gender & Youth, Media & Content, and Technical & Operational Topics. Because of my interest in working with youth, I was most interested in the sessions around youth and the internet.
The first session I watched was titled “Preventing Youth from Online Violent Radicalization.” The speakers on the panel each presented something and then took questions–the first presented on online profiles of extremists that had been jailed in France to show what people should be looking for and give insight into the narratives extremists use online, second a woman from a civil society group in Africa gave examples of policies in Africa toward prevention of radicalization, the third and fourth presenters offered a youth perspective on how counter arguments to extremism can be found through education and sharing of information. The session was very interesting and addressed a lot of things I had not thought about before in relation to this topic. Specifically the examples of actions and policies in Africa I thought were interesting. Somalia, Kenya ad Nigeria all have plans in place addressing online radicalization, whereas Uganda, Cameroon and Chad only have national terrorism laws, but are starting campaigns to criminalize using social media to spread terrorism. It made me curious about our laws in the US relating to spreading things online.
I also watched “Technology, Suicide, and the Mental Health of Youth,” which featured speakers from the public, private and non-profit sectors from around the globe discussing how different groups can come together to minimize the negative mental-health effects of internet-related technology. Something I loved was that the panel actually included an 8th grade student from France, and she was extremely well spoken and thoughtful. The panelists discussed different topics around mental health and the increase in suicides recently. The end of the session included each speaker telling how their organization could better collaborate with other stakeholders to mental health of youth–for example the woman from Facebook Brazil talked about how content policies keep things that would negatively impact a young person off of Facebook/hidden from them. They combine human moderators with AI to police this content, but the original meetings when deciding what to not allow were collaborative with youth and non-profit orgs in Brazil to decide what could be potentially harmful.
I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I attended!