What’s going on with Facebook?

Facebook has been in the news quite a lot recently, there have been allegations, investigations and corporate reshuffles. In case you have missed things, or have lost track of the story, here are the main points:

Facebook started life in 2004 as a social network app aiming to connect students at Harvard College. The name Facebook referred to the student directories often given to American university students containing student details and a portrait photo - a literal book or faces.

From there it expanded first to use across other US universities and eventually to the general public.

Facebook was the name of the application itself but also of the company that owned and operated it.
Like many tech corporations, Facebook the company grew not just through gaining more users but also through the buying of other tech companies and acquiring their expertise, software, applications and services.
In fact Facebook has acquired in the region of 90 companies since its inception, the most recognisable perhaps being Instagram, WhatsApp and virtual reality company Oculus.
You can find a complete list here, if you are interested in digging further.

Often the technology acquired has been rolled into the main Facebook application, though some of the more stand-alone applications such as Instagram retained their own branding with a small addition that refereed to them being owned by Facebook.

While Facebook is a strong brand this all makes sense, but things are changing.

The corporation ‘Facebook’ recently announced it was renaming and rebranding to ‘Meta’.
There are many reasons for a corporation to rebrand, here are perhaps some of the things which have led to this particular decision

1. Falling adoption

The Facebook application has for some time had a problem attracting younger users, in fact the ‘ageing population’ of the Facebook user base is well documented. I’ll bet if you ask your pupils they’ll tell you Facebook is what their parents or even grandparents use, but it’s not really for them.
Younger people have traditionally been an important driver in the rate of adoption and use of new technologies and so maintaining the ‘Facebook’ branding may well put off younger users from new services if they associate the branding with the activities of their elders.
For this reason, it’s easy to omit Facebook from discussions on online safety within schools, but as we’ve stated, Facebook has its fingers in lots of pies, many of which are very popular with young people. Maybe the rebranding to ‘Meta’ opens up the possibility for discussion, especially when understanding the various applications and how they can share data between them.

Further reading

2. Controversy

Almost since the very start, Facebook has courted controversy. Early on these were often about business practices, intellectual property wrangles or the personal and business relationships of the most well-known founder and figurehead Mark Zuckerberg. However, there have also been a fair amount of accusations and legal actions around things which should concern us more from a safeguarding and online safety stand point.

There have been numerous privacy issues, including the leaking of data and the corporate use of personal data by third parties. The case of Cambridge Analytica and it’s use of the personal data of 87 million Facebook users in its political marketing activities is one of the more well-known incidents. You can read more about that here

In addition, accusations of corporate practices leading to psychological harm, societal instability, tax avoidance, advertising fraud and dissemination of harmful fake news among others have tarnished the Facebook brand.

Recently an internal report showed that the company itself was aware of the potential harm its Instagram service was doing to teenage girls in particular. One slide in the report received a great deal of attention as it appeared to confirm the company knew that one in three teenage girls who had already experienced body-image issues stated that using Instagram made them feel worse. Specifically, the use of filtered images, posting selfies and viewing content with hashtags affected their well-being.

With reference to this and other corporate practices, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen recently alleged the social media giant put profit before user safety while answering questions from a UK parliament Joint Committee.

In time it’s likely that the wealth generation aspects of the company will move further away from the Facebook application itself and more towards its other brands and applications and so it makes sense to disassociate these from the Facebook name.

Further reading

3. The Metaverse

In the glitzy event to announce the rebranding of the Facebook corporation to ‘Meta’, Mark Zuckerberg introduced his vision on the ‘Metaverse’ - a social network expanded with virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D spaces which “will let you socialize [sic], learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what we can imagine”.

This ‘vision’ instantly had commentators likening the idea to the concept of the ‘OASIS’ from the novel and movie ‘Ready Player One’ and has led to some speculation, some wild and some more reasoned, as to the potential future of social networking. The premium fear being that Zuckerberg and his colleagues failed to comprehend the dystopian theme of the story which has highlighted the dangers of giving up real life, for an existence in a corporate controlled virtual existence.

The ‘metaverse’ concept is not new and like many of the ideas which have propelled Facebook to its position of one of the richest tech companies in the world, was not originated by Mark Zuckerberg or his colleagues. Indeed, platforms such as Secondlife, have been around since the beginning of the century, but there is something about the current level of reach and adoption of Facebook (now Meta), that suggests we might be in for a major leap in adoption.
Additionally, by naming the company ‘Meta’ the association or even allusion that it somehow ‘owns’ the metaverse is somewhat of a shrewd business move.

Further reading

As ever, it’s not really possible to discuss Facebook/Meta or indeed social networks in general and conclude with any certainty as to whether they are a net good or evil. One thing is for certain, there are definitely dangers and problems which we need to ensure people are aware of and we need to equip ourselves with the abilities to detect, understand and neutralise; be that privacy concerns, scams or psychological harms.

This article has sought merely to contextualise the current state of Facebook/Meta and we intend to do some deeper dives into some of the areas raised in subsequent articles.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on December 01, 2021 17:57

Safeguarding and Summer Schools

With the government offering funding equating to £597 per two week place for mainstream pupils, many schools are looking at bringing in groups of children over the summer.

Rocketlearn HolidayIf you are considering this here are some quick safeguarding tips. The government have also produced an excellent document which gives further information on running a summer school – available here.

1. Designated Safeguarding Lead

Remember you will need a DSL for the duration and you can’t assume it will be your usual DSL as they may be away. Planning a rota for the two weeks is the best way to do this as it stops the role being too onerous on one individual.

2. Staffing

If you are using staff who do not usually work on the school be mindful as to how long a DBS can take to come through, and have back up risk assessments in place.

3. Online resources

If you are planning on using third party content, which many schools are, be careful as to how it is delivered. Pre recorded lessons (such as those provided by www.holidaylearning.co.uk) are fine - live lessons throw up a raft of considerations - such as whether online chat is monitored/cameras on/cameras off and so on.

4. External providers

If you are bringing in external providers to run certain activities make sure they have appropriate policies and procedures in place in regard to safeguarding children and child protection AND there are arrangements to liaise with the school on these matters where appropriate.

With the responsibility of Summer Schools falling to a range of different people within a school it is important that someone has an overall handling on the potential safeguarding issues.

There is no doubt that Summer Schools, done well, can offer children a fantastic enriching experience and aid educational progress on the return in September. However, the delivery of such programmes is logistically challenging, from safeguarding to food provision to health and safety to content creation.



Many thanks to David Winfield, Founder of www.holidaylearning.co.uk for providing this article. Holiday Learning provides an online programme for children aged 7-13 to use as holiday homework either at home or in a Summer School setting providing online activities in well-being, academic enrichment, PE, Maths and English for only £295/school.

www.holidaylearning.co.uk has been created by teachers to offer teachers and schools a cost-effective bank of content." As teachers ourselves we know there is a huge difference between volunteering to be in school and help during a Summer School, to being asked to curate the materials. Additionally, with many of these children being unknown to the school as they are coming from feeder primaries, the ability to offer a range of activities at different levels as well as different topics will be invaluable."

www.holidaylearning.co.uk provides access to videos, quizzes and downloadable workbooks aimed at ages 8–13 covering PE, Well-being, Academic Enrichment, Maths and English. To book a 15 minute call with www.holidaylearning.co.uk please visit their website for further information.

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on June 30, 2021 17:05

Lack of training leaves teachers unable to deal with peer-on-peer sexual abuse.

Teachers 'struggle to deal with classroom sexual abuse'

SA Training BlogAccording to research carried out by BBC Radio 4 and the NASUWT, teachers say they do not feel equipped to deal with peer-on-peer sexual abuse because they have had no training.

This is a problem we have been tracking for a while, which is why our sister site TrainingSchoolz recently worked with specialists at Chameleon PDE to launch a series of related online training assignments for use in schools.

The training is specifically designed to help schools and teachers deal with this and the wider issues of sexual abuse, harassment, and misogyny.

It provides staff with time for reflection about how their school's safeguarding policy and procedures include sexual abuse, harassment and misogyny, and how these address the issues raised by the students who reported to the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ website in Spring 2021.

This training is structured into five assignments, each of which are issued separately, so schools can be flexible in how they deliver them to staff.

Assignment 1: Introduction: Improving safeguarding around sexual abuse, misogyny & harassment
Assignment 2: Milly case study: Improving safeguarding around sexual abuse, misogyny & harassment
Assignment 3: Kyle case study: Improving safeguarding around sexual abuse, misogyny & harassment
Assignment 4: Curriculum: Improving safeguarding around sexual abuse, misogyny & harassment
Assignment 5: Further advice: Improving safeguarding around sexual abuse, misogyny & harassment

About TrainingSchoolz
TrainingSchoolz provides an online dashboard for schools and MATs to monitor and evidence statutory training, policy compliance and vital communications.

The included training & policy library provides an extensive range of statutory training assignments, covering Safeguarding, E-safety, Keeping Children Safe In Education (KCSIE), Mental Health & Wellbeing and much more.

All of the assignments provided in the library are fully customisable to the school’s specific needs. In addition, schools can upload / create their own content to cover a diverse range of topics, such as Curriculum Development, Staff Induction, Staff Handbook & Risk Assessment etc.

For further details and a free trial, visit TrainingSchoolz

Existing E-safety Support and Safeguarding Essentials members - contact us to discuss upgrading your membership to TrainingSchoolz - email info@safeguardingessentials.com

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on May 27, 2021 07:13


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