Microsoft highlights new online safety efforts

Over the past couple of years, the conversation about online safety and privacy has grown to cover the sexual exploitation of both children and adults, fraud, and ever-increasing cases of identity theft. With that in mind, Microsoft is offering some tips, tricks and resources for users to take advantage of in the fight to increase online safety.

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In an attempt to address growing concerns over the harmful repercussions of misinformation, hate speech, sexting, online bullying and cyber harassment, Microsoft has relaunched its Safer Online social media campaign. Targeting some of the larger known areas where cyber bullying or hate speech often occur for teens and young adults, Microsoft’s Safer Online campaigns resources can now be found on Facebook and Twitter, supplying friends, followers and inquisitors with daily online safety tips.

At Microsoft, we see sexting as a significant and unsavory gateway through which young people can be exposed to a range of negative online content and experiences. So, we’re raising awareness, partnering with others on research and other projects, and generally encouraging good digital behavior.”

Microsoft’s efforts do not rest at a blog post or tweets either–the company also recently announced the removal from OneDrive and Xbox Live, and denial of access via Bing, any sexual imagery of victims of ‘revenge porn’ when victims notify the company. In doing so, Microsoft has seen an increase in the number of removal requests made to the company and has accordingly removed the vast majority of images related to those requests. Microsoft is also making its dedicated Web reporting form for non-consensual pornography readily available.

Moving away from potential sexual threats that lurk online, Microsoft is also acknowledging the dangers that await the less-than-tech-savvy elderly. In 2015, Microsoft estimated that some 3.3 million Americans were victims of tech support scams, many of them older citizens. The total cost of damages related to the tech support scams peaks at around $1.5 billion (US), last year alone. When broken down, the numbers roughly equal one American being scammed out of $454 almost every 10 seconds. That’s a lot.

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Microsoft filed two federal lawsuits against known offenders as well as teaming with law enforcement agencies to make continue incidents an ongoing priority. Teaming with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Microsoft is trying to get the word out to potentially unsuspecting elderly victims.

As for education and youth in academic situations of online safety and privacy violations, Microsoft is also providing information via its YouthSpark Hub.

The open nature of being online means users run a significantly increased chance of falling victim to scams, harassment, fraud and exploitation. Conversely, being online also empowers users to find, access and implement the tools, knowledge, and information made available by companies and institutions such as Microsoft.

With the new year comes a fresh opportunity to get on the more secure digital footing, and to take stock of online habits and practices — as individuals and families. Here’s to a happy, healthy and safe 2016, both online and off.”

We’re glad to see Microsoft continue to take online safety seriously, and as always we’ll be here to report on their progress. Don’t hesitate to let us know when you come across other examples of Microsoft being extra careful.

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What are your techniques for staying safe online?