Sylvia Musalgani is the Safety Policy Manager, Africa, Middle East and Turkey, Meta. Prior to joining Meta, she was a programme officer for the Freedom of Expression programme at Hivos where she worked with change makers in East Africa to promote freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline.
While on that role, she identified and supported civil society organizations, creative hubs, journalists, artists, human rights defenders and bloggers to establish and develop safe spaces where they can develop their creative skills, receive mentorship and access audiences.
As Meta’s Safety Policy Manager for Africa, Middle East and Turkey, Sylvia, support the company’s work strategically managing programmatic responses in these regions as part of the Meta’s global safety efforts.
Meta Safety Policy team is responsible for demonstrating the value of the platform to people across its major markets, primarily on economic growth initiatives, in addition to disaster preparedness, women’s economic empowerment and online safety.
In this interview, Sylvia Musalgani speaks to issues around enabling active citizen engagement in advocacy for their rights both online and offline; her activities around policy and advocacy for internet access and privacy in Africa, Middle East and Turkey. Excerpt:
TE: Why is women’s online safety important in this period and what is Meta doing to help them stay safe online?
Sylvia: At Meta, we believe that women have the right to be free from violence when participating openly in politics.
These rights are fundamental to strengthening our democracies. For the upcoming Nigerian elections in 2023, we’ve partnered with ElectHER and Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF), to address bullying and harassment targeted at women in politics on Facebook and Instagram by training women public figures vying for political positions, political activists and women journalists in Nigeria on our safety policies and tools.
This is part of our comprehensive approach in making our platforms a safer place for women around the world to help prevent issues such as abuse, exploitation, and harassment.
TE: What’s the aim of this online safety training?
Sylvia: The roundtable workshop aims to train women public figures vying for political positions, political activists and women journalists on our safety tools, policies and resources across our family of Apps with the following objectives:
- Strengthen awareness and knowledge in the online violence against women public figures in Nigeria and on how to have a safer user experience on the Meta platform of apps
- Strengthen both safety and security related awareness for Nigeria women public figures . Specifically support women public figures with resources and training on how to stay safe on Meta’s platforms and increase awareness about Meta’s reporting mechanisms
- Be transparent on Meta’s community standards, policies, and safety tools and resources to protect women on our platforms.
TE: Are there tools on the Meta family of apps that are used to train these women?
Sylvia: We have an array of existing tools and resources namely:
- Our Women’s Safety Hub outlines our comprehensive approach on how we’re making our platforms a safer place for women. It outlines clear policies, our pro-active technology, tools and various partnerships we’re leveraging on inorder to enhance women’s safety.
- STOP NCII is a free tool designed to support victims of Non-Consensual Intimate Image (NCII) abuse. StopNCII.org allows potential victims of NCII to proactively hash their intimate images so they can’t be proliferated on our platforms.
- Safety Guide for page admins.A safety guide that provides some basic safety tips for Page admins, including how they can assign Page roles, utilize moderation and filter tools, remove and ban people, and report abusive comments
- Tools such as 2-Factor authentication and Security Check-Up where users can keep their accounts safe from hacking
- Safety and security guidance for women politicians using Instagram, with more details on how to protect themselves from unwanted interactions.
- Our Community Standards outlining what’s allowed and what isn’t on our platforms
TE: Is Meta working with local partners on this initiative?
Sylvia: We are working in partnership with with ElectHER and Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF)
TE: Will this safety initiative have an impact on women’s participation in both elective and appointive positions in Nigeria?
Sylvia: Online violence against women is a barrier to women participation in political processes. Meta believes that participation of women in politics is essential for strengthening democratic processes. Meta’s safety policies, tools and resources create a safe environment for women public figures to freely express themselves and connect with their constituents in political discourse.
TE: What other measures are in place to ensure the Meta family of apps are not misused during this political season?
Sylvia: Using lessons from the past and input from experts and policymakers across the political spectrum, we’ve made substantial investments in people and technology to better fight foreign interference and domestic influence operations, reduce misinformation, and combat voter interference.
We have dedicated teams working to combat these types of threats for elections around the world. We also continue to work closely with election authorities and trusted partners in Nigeria to customise our strategy and take the appropriate steps to stay ahead of emerging threats and make sure we’re prepared long before people cast their votes.
Additionally, we have been preparing for Nigeria’s 2023 elections by working and talking to human rights groups, NGOs, civil society organisations, the media and regional experts within Meta to draw local insights on topics such as misinformation, hate speech, elections and disinformation.