Netsafety Week – keeping Kiwis safe online with a new online safety code and new Instagram safety features.

Nick McDonnell - Head of Public Policy, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands – July 30, 2021


Kiwis come to Facebook to run thriving businesses, support each other through Groups and connect with family, friends and causes they are passionate about. Our top priority at Facebook is to ensure New Zealanders who use our services also feel safe, which is why we are taking further steps to support online safety in New Zealand.

Partnering with Netsafety Week

We are very proud to be supporting Netsafe in the first Netsafety Week in New Zealand. Netsafe are a longstanding partner of Facebook’s and a unique and important organisation in online safety.

“Netsafety Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the safe and positive use of technology and to talk about the role we can all play in creating a better internet in our community,” says Martin Cocker, Netsafe CEO. “Nearly 23,000 people came to Netsafe for expert incident advice last year on topics including harassment, image-based abuse, self-harm, grooming, hate speech, scams and school incidents – and we know there are many more people who need support, but don’t know where to go. This is why we’re so grateful that hundreds of schools, organisations and charities have united to share the ways we can work together to make online spaces safe and reinforce where to get help if things don’t pan out. We’re especially grateful to our sponsors including Facebook and Instagram as they have enabled us to amplify the messages of the week and which helps us to make Aotearoa safer online.”

Supporting the Code of Practise for Online Safety and Harms 

New frameworks for regulating harmful content can contribute to the internet’s continued success by articulating clear ways for government, companies, and civil society to share responsibilities and work together. That’s why we support Netsafe’s creation of a voluntary Code of Practise for Online Safety and Harms alongside Netsafe as a credible, world-leading step to strengthen and ensure the safety of Kiwis online.

Protecting people from harm without undermining freedom of expression or the benefits of the open internet is a complex challenge but we look forward to collaborating with Netsafe and the broader industry partners on the development of this Code. Focusing on transparent and fit for purpose systems to ensure companies are making decisions about online speech that minimises harm and holds industry to account for enforcement of robust safety policies, is the right step to balance these challenges.The creation of a code is consistent with the work we do in building safety into the design of our services and is an extension of the Christchurch Call to Action’s call for industry to establish voluntary frameworks to address harmful content. Netsafe will lead the Code’s development over the coming months, including public, Government and NGO consultation before launching the Code towards the end of the year. We look forward to collaborating with safety experts, industry and civil society to ensure Kiwis continue to enjoy and feel safe not just on our services, but in the online space more generally.

You can see Netsafe’s media release here.

New safety tools for young people on Instagram

On Instagram, we want young people to connect with friends and keep up with their family, but we don’t want them to deal with unwanted messages or comments from strangers. We think private accounts are the right choice for young people, but we recognise some young creators might want to have public accounts to build a following.

This week we are taking further steps in our journey to strengthen youth safety and privacy, by addressing concerns regarding the experience of our young users on our platforms including:

  • Defaulting new Instagram accounts of young people who are under 16 into private accounts.
  • ​​For young people who already have a public account on Instagram, we’ll show them a notification highlighting the benefits of a private account, prompting them to change their privacy settings.
  • Across Instagram, Facebook and Messenger we are also now limiting the options advertisers have in reaching young people to age, location and gender only.

You can read more about these safety tools here.

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