Singapore first port of call in Asia Pacific for Facebook’s new digital literacy initiative

Singapore first port of call in Asia Pacific for Facebook’s new digital literacy initiative

The social media giant says it's partnering the People’s Association to bring its We Think Digital initiative to Singapore.

Facebook We Think Digital website
Screengrab of Facebook's We Think Digital website. 

SINGAPORE: Social media giant Facebook is bringing its new digital literacy programme to Singapore first, even as it hopes to train 1 million people across eight countries in Asia Pacific to think critically and share thoughtfully online by 2020.

In a blog post on Tuesday (Mar 5), Facebook said its We Think Digital initiative is an online education portal with interactive tutorials covering a number of topics such as privacy, safety, security, digital discourse and knowing your digital footprint.

READ: Select Committee on deliberate online falsehoods - Tech giants need to be more accountable; new laws possible

“We Think Digital has been designed for new and existing Internet users of all ages to develop the skills they need to safely enjoy digital technology, including critical thinking and empathy,” said Ms Clair Deevy, Facebook’s director of Community Affairs for Asia Pacific, in the blog post.

There are four modules that the social media giant has developed in collaboration with experts from across the region, she added. These include:

  • What is the Internet? An explanation of the Internet and social media, how they work and the importance of digital citizenship.
  • Your Digital Footprint: All you need to know about safety and security online and managing your digital footprint.
  • Be a Critical Thinker: Helping you to discern different types of information and develop critical thinking and empathy when communicating online.
  • You as a Digital Citizen: Insights into digital discourse and the differences between interacting online versus offline, your rights and responsibilities, as well as concepts like ‘netiquette’ or online etiquette, being a creator, copyright and plagiarism.

Singapore will be the first country in Asia Pacific to run the programme, the company said, before it is rolled out to other regional markets like the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan. It is also hoping to bring the programme beyond Asia Pacific to Argentina and Mexico, she said.

People’s Association (PA) is its partner in Singapore, as it works to “bring Singaporeans from all walks of life together through a variety of community programmes”, she added.

Ms Deevy told Channel NewsAsia that Facebook is working with the PA to ensure that the modules it developed are relevant for elderly people in Singapore. It will provide train-the-trainer sessions and work with the organisation to get feedback from the senior community, she added. 

PA’s group director of Engagement Group Chia Tze Yee said in the blog post that the organisation recognises the need to equip residents, especially seniors, with digital citizenship skills to exercise critical thinking and responsible online behaviour.

“We are happy to partner with Facebook to launch the We Think Digital initiative and are proud to be able to use our own 'Seniors for Smart Nation' programmes and Silver Infocomm Wellness Ambassadors to help deliver these valuable skills to the public,” Mr Chia said.

Ms Deevy declined to share how much Facebook is investing in this initiative, but said We Think Digital is "part of its continued investment in programmes and resources to help its community have safe and meaningful experiences online". 

Additionally, Ms Deevy mentioned that it is forming a regional steering committee to advise Facebook on how We Think Digital can bring the most value to the region.

READ: 'Co-regulation approach' should be taken when tackling hot-button issues, says Facebook VP

The committee will comprise members from this region, and its first two members are Dr Vu Minh Khuong, associate professor at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, as well as Dr Pijitra Tsukamoto, associate professor at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, she added.

Facebook is a signatory of Singapore’s Digital Participation Pledge, which allows organisations to commit to one or more actionable items that help Singaporeans acquire skills and adopt technology. Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran said in Parliament on Monday that more than 270 organisations have pledged to do their part to build a more digitally-ready Singapore.

Source: CNA/kk