YouTube is launching a series of workshops for teenagers to promote internet safety that will include how to tackle hate speech and fake news.

The Google-owned video streaming site will run the workshops, called Internet Citizens, for people aged 16 to 18 in cities across the UK as part of its Creators for Change programme and will raise awareness around issues such as tolerance, empathy and abuse online.

YouTube
(Yui Mok/PA)

 

Last month, Google and YouTube were criticised by the Government over hate speech after taxpayer-funded adverts were found to have been placed alongside extremist content on the video site.

The Internet Citizens programme will be used to teach skills on how to participate safely and responsibly online, YouTube said, and will include input from prominent YouTubers and youth mentor Efe Ezekiel.

[Read more: How to spot fake news on Facebook]

The site’s head of public policy Naomi Gummer said: “Nearly all of us will have come across comments or content online that shocked or even offended us, sometimes leaving us feeling isolated or powerless to change the conversation.

“And for young people in particular, this sense of vulnerability can be heightened if it’s difficult to judge whether a piece of content is real, especially when something is shared on social media by a trusted friend.

internet user
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

 

“That’s why we’re launching Internet Citizens.”

The curriculum for the programme has been designed by experts from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue as well as charity UK Youth and youth marketing firm Livity, YouTube said, and is part of wider plans to tackle abuse online.

“This is just one part of our commitment to a better web,” Gummer said.

“Alongside this, we are exploring more innovative ways to use technology; to partner with experts to help us tackle hate speech online and we are taking a hard look at our policies around offensive content. We’ll share more updates on these areas in the coming weeks.”

YouTube
(Tim Ireland/PA)

 

UK Youth chief executive Anna Smee said: “Young people in the UK spend more time online than ever before.

“In this complex world there is an urgent need to help young people embrace the positive aspects of connectivity, but we must also support them to manage the negative effects.

“Through Internet Citizens, UK Youth is empowering young people to express themselves, have a voice, listen to others and ultimately gain a sense of belonging by discovering the skills needed to act safely and responsibly online, and make the internet a positive place.”

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For a comprehensive and easy-to-use resource of the most up-to-date information for keeping your child safe online, check out Internet Matters, a not for profit organisation dedicated to e-safey.