Two Hat believes that everyone should be free to share online without fear of harassment or abuse. We also believe that making this vision a reality is a shared responsibility.
That’s why we have allied ourselves with diverse organizations including non-profits, government agencies, private companies, and industry alliances to share best practices, produce online safety resources, and spread the word of proactive, purposeful content moderation. One of those organizations is the California-based non-profit #ICANHELP.
We recently sat down with Matt Soeth, co-founder and executive director of #ICANHELP to discuss the organization’s upcoming initiatives with the NY Yankees, his thoughts on social media legislation, and #Digital4Good, their annual event celebrating student achievements.
Carlos Figueiredo: Tell us about your organization, #ICANHELP.
Matt Soeth: #ICANHELP educates and empowers students to use social media positively.
We train students how to be digital first responders. When they see something online we want them to know how to report content (when necessary), how to respond to negative content, and in the words of students, how to respond to all the “drama.”
At the same time, we work with students to build positive social media campaigns. We train educators and admin best practices around modeling and guiding students in developing their digital identity.
CF: What initiatives are you working on right now?
MS: We are excited to announce our partnership with the NY Yankees as part of their Bronx Education All Star Day. About 9000 students and educators were at the game on May 29 being recognized for academic achievement, civic engagement, and leadership. We will be working with Bronx schools in the fall with our curriculum and resources to help students develop social projects for the 2019-2020 school year.
We have two new online courses for teachers and administrators we are excited to share. Our teacher course walks educators through building up their social media presence, managing student social media teams, and the best way to model and guide students in creating and managing content. Our admin course will help anyone looking for policy examples and guidance on how to respond and investigate social media incidents. We walk everyone through how to create an incident response plan related to a social media incident as well as how to work with law enforcement, social media companies, and gaming companies to get content removed that violates a platform’s terms of service.
We are excited to announce a collaboration project with the Well Being Trust, the foundation for Providence/St. Joseph Health, to create mental health and wellness curriculum around digital wellbeing. So much of what we see in digital wellbeing currently is focused heavily on devices and we are looking to develop some tools for young people and educators to help them talk about stress, anxiety, and online negativity.
CF: How can people get involved?
MS: Check out our website. You can always contact us through our site. We are very active on social media, @icanhelp on Twitter, @icanhelpofficial on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We are sharing content all the time, so if schools are looking for ideas, that’s the place to connect with us.
That being said – share! So much of what we do is word of mouth and we have students all over doing some amazing work. We’d love for more people to know those stories.
If you are an educator or parent and care about this topic, please reach out and share our resources, invite us to your community or school, help us grow the conversation and keep it going.
CF: What is your take on the social media legislation being introduced around the world – Online Harms and Duty of Care in the UK, Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material in Australia, the Christchurch Call?
MS: All of these actions are leading to new policy and regulation to hold companies accountable for the content on their site. The challenge will come when trying to enforce these laws and regulations as that part is still unclear. The intent behind these actions is clear, making the internet a better and safer place for users, particularly youth.
The one challenge I do have with all of this is the emphasis on government regulation and corporate responsibility. Whenever there is a major social incident – offline, that then goes viral and plays out online – we as users react. In this case, with a landslide of recent incidents, we got the white paper, identifying and removing terrorist content, and so on. It solves the problem now, but I often wonder if gets to the systemic underlying issue causing all of these problems. For example, there is so much talk about cyberbullying, but kids are still more likely to be bullied in person than online. Responding to cyberbullying is good, and needs to happen, but regulating companies is not enough. If the internet is going to be a better place, it needs to be a collective effort: users, nonprofits, content experts, education institutions, companies, you name it. It takes all of us.
CF: Can you give us a sneak peek at #Digital4Good 2019?
MS: We are really excited about #Digital4Good 2019. It’s being held at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, CA. We have our winners selected and will be sharing more about them soon. It’s a diverse group of students from all over the US covering a range of topics and projects around bullying, race, homelessness, robotics, leadership development, and cancer research.
These students will be sharing their stories live on September 16, 2019. We’ve invited a few schools to attend, though seating is limited. You can tune into the live stream and see the event as it happens (or watch again later). To get notified about the live stream, fill out the form on the page. We will tell you when the event is happening and share out the schedule of student speakers.
CF: Thanks for sitting down with us, Matt!
MS: My pleasure, Carlos!