Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Groups Online Strategies for Enhancing Online Safety in Digital Communities
Julie Taylor & Jacob DahlmanJulie Taylor & Jacob Dahlman

Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Groups Online Strategies for Enhancing Online Safety in Digital Communities

By Julie Taylor, Tech Principal, Joyn Holdings LTD & Jacob Dahlman, Team Lead, Joyn Holdings LTD

In an increasingly digital world, the safety of our children on the internet has become a paramount concern for parents and guardians. The internet offers a vast playground of opportunities for learning and socializing, but it also presents numerous risks. As the younger generations get more involved with these online communities, they can also be targets for cyberbullies, hackers, scammers, online predators, and much worse. As the internet landscape continues to evolve, online forums and group chat communities become integral aspects of our digital culture. Discord, a popular social media platform, has recognized this need for online safety and has taken significant steps to protect young users through parental controls, privacy policies, and safety resources.

Innovative Tools for Safer Online Communities

Joyn, a Denver-based tech company, has been at the forefront of developing tools that empower moderators and enhance the safety of Discord to make the internet a safer space for users, especially children. These tools not only streamline the moderation process but also provide moderators with the means to address harmful content swiftly and effectively. The creators of Joyn recognized the critical need for innovative tools while operating nearly a dozen Discord servers with a combined membership of 620,000 users. These servers, which encompassed both gaming and support communities, highlighted the critical importance of moderation and quality tools in ensuring a positive online experience.

Content moderators face myriad challenges when striving to safeguard online forums from hate speech and predatory behavior. The immense volume of content, coupled with the subtlety of some harmful interactions, poses a formidable challenge. One of the primary challenges faced by Discord server moderators is maintaining consistency and activity throughout the day, given that many moderators are volunteers. To address this issue, Joyn, a third-party developer has created innovative solutions and resources such as the Support Bot to answer frequently asked questions, along with integrating powerful moderation features into ZeroTwo to automate moderation tasks. These tools not only reduced the burden on server staff but also contributed to a safer and more controlled online environment for users of all ages. Developing effective strategies for identifying and addressing such content is an ongoing endeavor that requires technological innovation and regulatory cooperation.

Fighting Scams and Protecting Vulnerable Groups Online

While the safety of children online is undoubtedly a top priority, online safety tools must extend their protective measures beyond children to safeguard various vulnerable groups within the diverse landscape of all online platforms. Discord currently has over 150 million active users while hosting a wide variety of

user groups, and there are always individuals with malicious intent who aim to harm and upset people. While children remain a prominent focus, recent trends have unveiled new challenges, such as the surge in phishing scams targeting users of all ages. Misinformation is a common thread that runs through these threats, highlighting the fact that people of any age may lack the knowledge to discern scams and protect themselves adequately.

Specific instances involve elaborate schemes to steal Discord accounts, often through the impersonation of official bots or by exploiting QR codes, promising “free Discord Nitro” subscriptions. These scams result in users losing access to their accounts, which are subsequently used to perpetuate further scams, capitalizing on the trust within their friends’ lists. Therefore, while protecting children online remains a top priority with dedicated safety tools, the need for comprehensive online safety education and awareness applies to all user groups, emphasizing the importance of tailored protective measures for different demographics. Discord has implemented several safety tools and resources to educate its growing user base and create a safer online environment. To learn more about the different types of scams circulating on the platform, community members can visit Discord’s Safety Library, under the Account Security tab, to help users from falling victim to scams and ensure all accounts are safe and secure.

Fostering Positive Online Behavior with Moderation Bots

The effectiveness of moderation bots in influencing user behavior varies depending on the community and the incentives provided. In some cases, individuals respond positively to disciplinary interventions, especially when the incentive is to avoid being banned, which often leads to behavior correction. Alternatively, rewarding continued positive behavior can also result in increased compliance and reformed individuals. However, the effectiveness of incentives varies depending on the community’s culture and the individuals involved; for instance, certain communities may exhibit toxic behavior persistently until they are banned. Moreover, an additional challenge arises from a lack of awareness regarding what constitutes inappropriate behavior, particularly among children who may not have received proper guidance on ethical online interactions due to their upbringing. Thus, education and corrective measures play a critical role in improving online interactions and fostering a healthier digital environment.

However, moderation applications have proven to be effective in transforming user behavior. Joyn’s community manager, recalls one noteworthy example involving a user who engaged in light spamming, which, although not extreme, disrupted the community and annoyed fellow members. Through the use of moderation tools, appropriate actions were taken against this user. Remarkably, this experience prompted the individual to reach out personally to the community manager with an apology. This intervention allowed for a more in-depth conversation about the motivations behind the spamming behavior and enabled the team member to elucidate the adverse effects it had on the community’s flow and direction. This powerful interaction highlights the potential for moderation tools to not only correct behavior but also to foster understanding and positive change within online communities.

Collaborative Efforts for Safer Digital Environments

In a world where online interactions play an ever-expanding role in our lives, the safety of our children and vulnerable groups is a shared responsibility. Creating a safe online space requires more than just technology; it necessitates the cultivation of a positive and supportive community. Joyn’s partnership with Discord has yielded innovative tools, servers, bots, and communities that have been instrumental in fostering a secure online environment. Their contributions extend beyond technological solutions, encompassing content moderation and community building, all with a focus on safety. By recognizing the need for moderation tools, expanding its services, and protecting all vulnerable groups, ensures that children and all users can enjoy a secure, safe, and positive internet experience.

About the Author

Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Groups Online Strategies for Enhancing Online Safety in Digital CommunitiesJulie Taylor is the Tech Principal at Joyn Holdings LTD, a pioneering technology company dedicated to developing innovative tools, solutions, and cutting-edge applications to ensure a positive online environment. Mrs. Taylor currently presides over the company’s visionary technological strategies and trailblazing innovations, which have notably amplified the Discord platform. As a seasoned entrepreneur and distinguished tech executive, Julie boasts a remarkable track record of over two decades of multifaceted expertise spanning diverse industries, such as technology, finance, real estate, business, marketing, software management, consulting, and sales.

Before assuming her pivotal role at Joyn, Mrs. Taylor has honed a profound acumen in optimizing team dynamics and fostering operational efficiency, while delivering unparalleled insights to an extensive array of clients and corporate entities, spanning the spectrum from promising startups to industry-leading Fortune 500 conglomerates.

Mrs. Taylor has also cultivated an astute proficiency in art collecting and a keen eye for design, further enriching her diverse portfolio. She, along with her husband Jim, founded The Taylor Art Collection, a privately held collection of emerging and mid-career artists based in Denver, Colorado. Beyond her unparalleled professional achievements, Julie passionately advocates for mentorship programs, conservation projects, championing the growth, and empowerment of aspiring marketers in nurturing their innate potential to flourish in their endeavors.

Julie can be reached online at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-taylor-7133696/ and at our company’s website: https://joyn.gg/

Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Groups Online Strategies for Enhancing Online Safety in Digital CommunitiesJacob Dahlman is the Team Lead at Joyn Holdings LTD and a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in the gaming industry; demonstrating a wealth of knowledge and expertise across various fields. In his tenure at Joyn, Jacob has made significant strides, most notably executing an AI partnership with Samurai Labs to combat abhorrent speech in Discord and successfully hosting the GDC 2022 Live tournament for Discord through Joyn.gg.

Prior to his role at Joyn, Jacob served as the Director of Community Development for Tournament Kings LTD. His keen eye for innovation led to the creation of the world’s first Tournament Bot prototype for Discord. This groundbreaking achievement showcased Jacob’s dedication to pushing the boundaries in the gaming industry. Jacob’s early career in telecommunications construction at Linx LLP equipped him with the technical know-how to make a tangible impact in his subsequent roles. His accomplishments include launching the first LAN center and Esports Arena in Denver and successfully organizing Clutch Con 2015, an esports competition and convention at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Jacob is deeply involved in community service as the current treasurer for the Alliance for Land Liberty, a civic community organization that advocates against unconstitutional land use codes in Delta County, Colorado.

Jacob can be reached online at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobdahlman and at our company’s website: https://joyn.gg/

December 17, 2023

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