Meta’s EU Youth Privacy Forum: One Year On

We recently celebrated the first anniversary of the Meta EU Youth Privacy Forum. Established in 2022, the purpose of the Forum is to convene a broad range of experts from the privacy and safety communities to explore key policy issues relating to the protection of young people online through a multi-disciplinary and multi-faceted lens. Over the past year, we have brought together industry, academia, and policy partners and young people themselves to discuss nuanced and complex topics impacting the safety and privacy of young people online.  

The first event took place in June 2022 and focused on keeping young people safe online where, together with the other stakeholders, we highlighted common themes emerging from the regulatory and policy landscape in Europe such as the best interests of the child, age assurance, advertising based on interests, and parental controls. Attendees joined a roundtable discussion on the European Commission’s proposed Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) Regulation, exploring how it may work in practice and highlighting the challenges involved in striking the right balance of children’s right to privacy and their safety.

Building on this, our second event in October 2022 focused on preventing and combating CSAM. We were joined by experts working in the field together with policymakers and enforcement agencies, with discussions covering the trends seen in sharing of CSAM online, the psychological science behind perpetrators of the crime, and highlighting the various approaches to tackling the problem; challenges experienced and the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach as well as a focus on prevention (rather than only on detection).

In January 2023, the Forum focused its discussion on how to foster age-appropriate experiences online and the different elements or “building blocks” involved, including transparency and education, guardian support, co-design with young people, content moderation, default settings and in-app safety features. One of these building blocks, age assurance, was examined in detail.  We learned about the European Commission’s proposals for a Digital Identity Wallet and the clear limitations as far as age of minors is concerned, and industry approaches to understanding the age of users. A panel then discussed the opportunities and challenges for age verification and age assurance, including exploring the different equities at play, including privacy, fairness, proportionality, accuracy, usability, and overall efficacy. 

At our most recent event in April 2023, the Forum considered the role of another of these “building blocks”, transparency, and shared insights into recent multi-stakeholder collaboration and research by Meta’s Trust, Transparency and Control Labs on age-appropriate transparency and education across personalised services, including initial takeaways from the EU Youth Design Jam. Forum attendees discussed the challenges inherent in communicating with young people (taking into account elements such as varying literacy levels and the vast quantity of information to be communicated) and triggering family conversations, and discussed how effective and age-appropriate transparency may be achieved in practice. Professor Andy Phippen complemented Forum discussions by sharing insights from his High Level Working Group on Privacy and Safety. The Working Group had agreed that often policy and public discourse commonly represents that the challenges that young people face online are the fault of technology, whereas there is actually a broader pool of stakeholders responsible for the best interests of the child, highlighting the importance of a multi-stakeholder model for protecting young people online.

Meta uses external insights such as those generated through the Forum, to support its approach to product development and design for the best interests of the child. Planning for further Forum events are underway and we look forward to welcoming stakeholders to Brussels to continue discussions on these important topics. If you are interested in participating in future Forum events we would be pleased to welcome you. 

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