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Staying Safe Online - March 2024

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YouTube and Meta announce new safety updates
Safer Internet Day 2024. Tuesday 6 February. Together for a better internet. www.saferinternetday.org

Last month, we told you how we were supporting Safer Internet Day, but we weren’t the only ones doing our bit to help keep children and young people safe online.

Meta, the company that own Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Threads, announced:

  • it’s working with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to expand its ‘Take it Down’ initiative, which provides a simple, privacy-friendly way to address the spread of intimate images online. 
  • they’ve partnered with Thorn on a new guide for teenagers on how they can avoid ‘sextortion’.
  • they’ve also added new safety notices and alerts to help users report accounts that threaten to share their private images.
  • YouTube also announced that they had expanded measures to help keep young users safe, including updates to its in-stream “Take a Break” prompts, a broader roll out of content restrictions for potentially harmful topics, and a new report on digital wellbeing, created in collaboration with adolescent health experts.

    Just like Meta, one of our focuses is to protect our children and young people from sextortion, which is currently affecting boys and young men aged between 14 and 17. If you have a son, we have a parents guide available on the West Sussex County Council website for you to take a look at.

    WSCC's parents' guide on sextortion.

    The Rise of the Aggro-rithm
    Young boy on a laptop using a mouse. TV in background with a computer game on.

    On Safer Internet Day 2024, Vodafone released a new film ‘The Rise of the Aggro-rithm’ to highlight the harmful AI algorithms targeting Britain’s teen and tween boys.

    Research shows 69% of boys aged 11-14 have been exposed to online content that promotes misogyny and other harmful views and over half (52%) are aware of, and have engaged with, content from influencers with ties to the “manosphere”. This term is used to describe the network of online communities responsible for creating and promoting negative, often misogynistic content, with 59% led to it through innocent and unrelated searches due to AI algorithms.

    To support families having online safety conversations around a variety of subjects, including AI, Vodafone and the NSPCC have created a new toolkit, in conjunction with children and parents, that we recommend you take a look at.

    Read more about the new film and toolkit.

    Protect yourself from courier fraud
    Mobile phone with SCAM written on it. Courier & Impersonator Fraud. Watch our webinar to find out more.
    Courier Fraud is one of the most common types of fraud within West Sussex. Between October and December 2023, a total of nearly £413K was lost to individuals across the county.
    This crime will typically happen when a fraudster contacts a victim by telephone, claiming to be a police officer, bank official or other type of authority. During the phone call they will attempt to convince the victim that they need to hand over their card, valuables, or money to a courier who is sent to their home.
    WSCC have lots of information available to help you avoid being caught out by courier fraud, including:
    • How to keep yourself safe from scams and fraud with our handy scam fraud resource sheet.
    • A courier fraud webinar on YouTube with lots of information, advice and resources to stop you being caught out by criminals.
    • A six and a half minute condensed version of the 43 minute webinar, which can be watched by hitting the blue text below.
    Watch the condensed courier fraud webinar now.

    In just one year, 1 in 17 adults were victims of fraud*
    Man holding an iPad with a scared face. Text reads: Account security: Verify now. Stop! Is this really your bank? Think fraud. UK Government logo
    Do you have the knowledge and tools to help you stay ahead of scams?
    “Stop! Think Fraud” is the Government's latest campaign to help you reduce your risk of becoming a victim by teaching you to spot the tactics and techniques commonly used by fraudsters. It also gives you access to practical advice and support, and provides you with steps you can take if you’ve lost money or data.
    Find out more on the Stop! Think Fraud website.

    (*Headline statistic comes from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending September 2023)

    QR codes – What’s the real risk?
    Small plastic figures piecing together a QR code on the floor
    QR codes are everywhere, from posters and leaflets, to menus in pubs and restaurants, but when you're out and about in public spaces it's hard to know what you can and can't trust - have criminals placed a malicious QR code over a genuine one to steal money, information, or trick you in some way?
    Thankfully, in the UK QR-enabled fraud is relatively small when we compare it to other types of cyber fraud, but when it does occur it usually happens in more open spaces, such as train stations or car parks.
    The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advises people to always act with caution, especially when receiving QR codes by email, and to use the QR scanner that comes with your phone, rather than using an app downloaded from an app store.
    Visit the NCSC's website for more support with QR codes.

    Don't forget to set up parental controls on your child's devices
    Family holding hands on the beach
    We like to keep an eye on the news to see if there is anything of interest for our readers, and in early February we saw a story in The Washington Post which said that 'by the end of 2022, fewer than 10 percent of teens on Meta’s Instagram had enabled the parental supervision setting.'
    Within the article, child safety experts said that the parental supervision settings allow tech companies to shed their responsibility of looking after children and young people and pass the heavy lifting over to parents to make sure that their child is safe online.
    If you haven't had a chance to sort out parental controls on your child's phone, or don't know where to start, we recommend looking at the Internet Matters website which has a section on setting up parental controls on smartphones, entertainment and search engines, broadband and mobile networks, social media and gaming consoles.
    Internet Matters: How to set parental controls

    Training and events
    Are you scam savvy?
    Earlier in this newsletter, we told you that in just one year, 1 in 17 adults were victims of fraud*. To support residents from becoming victims, WSCC have organised another round of their ‘Are you scam savvy?’ online and in-person sessions, which were launched last year.
    Online sessions
    The free 1.5-hour webinars are open to anyone who wants to keep themselves, or friends and family, from falling victim to different types of scams, including telephone, courier, and romance fraud.
    The dates available are:
    • Wednesday 22 May: 1pm - 2.30pm
    • Friday 5 July: 11am - 12.30pm
    In-person sessions
    We will also be hosting in-person and online sessions at three West Sussex Libraries:
    • Friday 19 April at Crawley Library: 10am - 11.30am
    • Monday 20 May at Bognor Library: 10am - 11.30am
    • Monday 17 June at Shoreham Library: 10am - 11.30am
    If you can’t attend the library sessions in person, there is also the opportunity to view these online. Whichever way you choose, it is essential you book a free ticket via Eventbrite. 
    Book your free 'Are you scam savvy?' ticket now

    (*Statistic comes from the Crime Survey for England and Wales, year ending September 2023)

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    Message Sent By
    Derek Pratt MBE
    (NWN, MSA, Sussex)

    Neighbourhood Alert Cyber Essentials