Article

Yahoo and NetSafe exchange safety ideas

issue_54p16Last month, Yahoo’s Connie Chung came to New Zealand to work with NetSafe. She experienced the online challenges we face and plans to use what she’s learned to help make the internet a safer place for Kiwis.

At Yahoo, we’re focused on making the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining – whether you’re searching the web, emailing friends, or sharing photos with family. As part of Yahoo’s Trust and Safety team, I’m particularly focused on empowering our users – especially our younger users – to have meaningful, trustworthy, and safer online experiences through our products.

I came to New Zealand one month ago to work on behalf of Yahoo with NetSafe. As more than half of the Kiwis who venture online will visit a Yahoo property, it’s particularly important for our Trust and Safety team to understand local online habits.

I’m learning a tremendous amount during my time here and my experiences will definitely enhance my work against three of our commitments to safety:

1. Encourage safe online behaviour through education I’ve frequently heard discussed concerns for youth safety online. In my first week in Auckland, the high youth suicide rate in the country came up a half dozen times in conversation in the professional context, but also among chats with random acquaintances. Online bullying was similarly brought up, especially in my interactions with teachers and school administrators.

An understanding of the safety concerns of our users in New Zealand directly informs what safety topics and educational resources we highlight on our site. At Yahoo NZ, we have a dedicated safety resource, Yahoo Safely (nz. safely.yahoo.com), with advice for parents, teens, and general online users on how to navigate Yahoo, and the internet as a whole, more safely.

2. Build in safety by design Observing the operations at NetSafe has provided me with another important lens on local online safety issues. I’ve gained valuable insight by listening to internet users from all walks of life contact NetSafe to express their concerns. These user experiences help our team at Yahoo better inform our products and services across the board.

Yahoo has refreshed and launched many new products in the past year, and a big part of the Trust and Safety team’s role is to ensure that safety features are built into our products from the initial design to address potential abuses. My experience at NetSafe provided me with a comprehensive view of the safety concerns on the minds of online users in New Zealand.

3. Engage the many stakeholders of online safety Around the world, governments are increasingly focused on the issue of online safety. New Zealand is no exception and has recently embarked on a review and public consultation process that’s examining the most effective ways to mitigate the impact of harmful digital communications on children and young people.

NetSafe plays an important role in informing and educating lawmakers on the complex issues of online safety. Yahoo has also worked hard over the years to establish trusted connections in local government, industry, and non-profit groups to represent the interests of our users. Over the last month, I was proud to work alongside the NetSafe team to ensure that the interests of the millions of Yahoo users in New Zealand are heard.

Relevant online safety resources
One often mentioned statistic in my conversations with New Zealanders is the population of the country. It’s a size, as one person told me, that means that issues in the news are consequential not only in the abstract but to a person you know, or that someone you know, knows. After my time at NetSafe, I understand that in a much more tangible way.

Our Yahoo team is focused on providing our users in New Zealand and around the globe with the most up-to-date and relevant online safety resources. That said, we need your help. Whether you’re a young user, a teacher, or a parent, we encourage you to dive into the Yahoo Safely website and share with us your thoughts via our Twitter feed, @YahooSafely, on how to make the internet safer for everyone.

CONNIE CHUNG IS A MEMBER OF THE YAHOO US TRUST AND SAFETY TEAM. SHE WAS IN NEW ZEALAND FOR FOUR WEEKS AS PART OF THE NETSAFE SECONDMENT PROGRAMME.

© INTERFACE Magazine, March 2014

Categories: Article, Issue 54