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SMW Partners with Facebook to Host First-Ever Empathy Day

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As part of our efforts in the fight against cyberbullying, SMW held an Empathy Day event in partnership with The 404, a group of multi-disciplined, digital thought-leaders including Facebook.

Why is empathy important in the context of how we interact and engage with social media?

This was the question that drove the conversation during the inaugural Empathy Day event hosted by Social Media Week and The 404 at the Facebook Partner Centre in London.

This past Wednesday, a group of high school students came together for an inspiring conversation around ways we can drive empathy online. They were joined by two Instagram influencers, 23-year-old Imii Mace and 19-year-old Anisa Farah, who collectively have tens of thousands followers across Instagram and Twitter. They shared their journeys in addressing negative comments and how they’re encouraging their followers and the larger Instagram community to pay it forward with positivity.

Defining empathy and getting to the root of the problem

Led by Dr. Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, the group also participated in a variety of exercises that challenged them to differentiate sympathy from empathy and address key questions including what are the key barriers to empathy and why is the decline of empathetic behavior on social media such a pressing issue?

After becoming more familiarized with the problem throughout the workshop, students were tasked with brainstorming their own ideas for boosting empathy in their communities as part of the #youarenotalone challenge.

Examples included community pages where people could seek help and accomplishments of peers could be celebrated, and empathy assemblies where students could experience the effect of their words face-to-face. The larger takeaway of what was shared was two-fold: we need to emphasize rewarding good behavior and remove the interactions from behind the screens.

Insights from students

The students were also put to test through polls that revealed more about their personal experiences such as whether or not they’ve witnessed cyberbullying and how social media platform companies can help make our online world a more empathetic one. A few important insights gleaned from their responses included:

  • More than 80% of students defined empathy as connecting with someone to understand their perspective
  • 75% reported they attempted to stand up for a peer in-person while 55% tried to stand up for someone online
  • More than half (56.5%) felt that increased education is needed on why this is an issue

What’s Next

This is the first of several Empathy Day events SMW and The 404 will be hosting this year with several more workshops confirmed for December across our Global Partner Centres including Grey Group, Adobe, Edelman, and Code and Theory.

Our goal is to create a safe and enjoyable experience online are fully committed to preventing cyberbullying across them. We look forward to showing everyone how they too can make a positive difference when we all come together on social media to make a change for good!

About The 404

The 404 is a community of multi-disciplined, digital thought-leaders brought together to take necessary steps toward solving problems that exist as a product of how we use social media. Functioning as a coalition and working in collaboration, The 404 is made up of over 40 member companies, including Facebook, who has provided support by offering up its Global Partner Centers to host 404 events and meetings.

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