What Is Missing From The E-Safety Debate
*If you came here searching for Pro-ana websites while I can’t force you I do ask you to consider contacting B-eat via http://www.b-eat.co.uk/.
The news again today was recently filled with talk about how big companies like Google and Facebook can help do more to stop child abuse images being seen and governments plans to block legal porn by default on internet connections. Forgetting the governments plan to block legal porn. While child abuse images are a very important topic when discussing E-Safety the child abuse images are one small part of the E-Safety debate. Just as an important is the discussion around other aspects of E-Safety such as bullying and websites that promote unhealthy lifestyles such as pro-ana websites (sites that promote anorexia) . This aspect is probably just as important at least with abuse images we have a system in place to deal with it.*
If we for a minute focus on pro-ana sites they became quite prolific in the 1990s with the internet just starting however the sites became known in mainstream media after the Oprah Winfrey Show aired a special show about the topic. In direct response to the show Geocities (for those younger readers in the audience Geocities was a very popular hosting website in the 1990s) and Yahoo actively closed the sites. This had a negative effect of driving the sites underground with the sites trying to hide the true nature intent with some even starting to interview new members.
Then if we take a look at bullying we can often fall into the trap of thinking it only happens using IM, email and on social media websites and while it happens in those places it also takes place elsewhere. I was discussing this topic with Sally our E-Safety Manager at Impero Software. We were discussing the students using Microsoft Powerpoint to write a messages about someone and then delete the text. Using it as a modern-day equivalent of passing a note around.
However in all my time in e-safety it is only a few times I have heard people talk about pro-ana or bullying the focus often has been abuse images and grooming.
This is why you have to look at E-safety not only from a URL blocking perspective but at systems (obviously such as Impero) that offer a complete system integration that look from a holistic point of view and not just URL monitoring.
My question to you is what other areas get forgotten when we have debates around E-Safety?
- A side note the Guardian have a very good article from on the staff at IWF.