Google made some strategic announcements today regarding its commitment to online safety in India and rolled out a bunch new programs and initiatives. These new announcements comes at the heels of the accelerated digital adoption the country witnessed over the last year thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown that made almost everyone go online for pretty much most needs. Google made the announcements today at the virtual Google for India event today and the new investments include the expansion of its Trust & Safety teams in India, the launch of an enhanced Google Safety Centre with support for eight Indic languages, user education programs focused on online safety for kids and families.
Additionally, Google has launched the global ‘Be Internet Awesome’ program for kids in India and has also joined hands with Amar Chitra Katha to share critical internet safety lessons through popular comic book characters across eight languages.
On the team front for Trust & Safety, Google said that it is significantly increasing its resources for the team here including getting product policy analysts, security specialists, and user trust experts on board along with support for more than 10 vernacular Indian languages. The company said that this will help its central teams learn local nuance and get inputs and help Google India fight against “emerging abuse areas” like “misinformation, fraud, threats to child safety, violent extremism, phishing attacks, and malware”.
Google is also launching the newly expanded Safety Centre in Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu, and in Bengali, Tamil, and Gujarati by year-end, and the company hopes this will serve as a single destination “dedicated to educating and empowering Google’s users on the importance of digital safety covering important topics like data security, privacy controls, and online protections”.
The Be Internet Awesome toolkit has been designed by digital safety experts to help children, families, and educators learn about staying safe online and it includes a visual, interactive experience called ‘Interland’. Interland will help children learn the fundamentals of online safety, how to deal with cyber-bullying, safeguard valuable information, spot the fake, etc, by making them participate in a series of games. This gamified curriculum will also find place in Amar Chitra Katha’s popular series across eight Indian languages.
“With more and more users coming online, there’s no doubt that the internet plays a central role in supporting India’s ongoing national momentum. Therefore, it is critical that we do all we can to bolster user confidence in digital space. We’re conscious that this requires a comprehensive approach that combines our teams with technology, user education, clear and robust policies, and collaborating with key stakeholders. Given the exciting diversity of the Indian internet ecosystem, we are looking forward to working with partners to share the capabilities we have developed over the years and learn from others as well,” Kristie Canegallo, Vice President, Trust and Safety, Google, said.
Speaking about the main products Google focused on in India when the pandemic-induced lockdowns came into force, Canegallo said the company worked on its video calling and online payment solutions first followed by the never-ending uphill climb of dealing with misinformation about Covid-19 on platforms like YouTube.
The initiatives Google announced in India today are supported by a series of new global policies announced by Google that include product changes to Google Accounts for people under 18 across YouTube, Search, Location History, Play, and Google Workspace for Education. These changes grant teens’ more control over their digital footprint, expand safeguards to prevent age-sensitive advertisement categories from being shown to them, block advertisements targeting based on age, gender, or interests, etc.
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