Vodafone and Snapchat partner against cyberbullying


#BeStrong anti-bullying emojis appearing as Geofilter photo overlays for millions of ‘Snapchatters’ across Europe

Snapchat, the mobile platform with over 100 million global daily active users, has partnered with Vodafone to help raise awareness of teen cyberbullying during the UK’s Anti-Bullying Week 2015.

Snapchat has created a series of Europe-wide Geofilters – special artistic overlays for ‘Snaps’ that can be accessed from select locations – to encourage ‘Snapchatters’ to take a stand against bullying by sharing Snaps featuring Vodafone’s #BeStrong emojis. The images will reach millions of Snapchatters all across Europe to help them take a stand against bullying.

The #BeStrong emojis were designed in response to an 11-country survey commissioned by Vodafone from YouGov, where 72% of the teenagers surveyed said they would welcome an emoji they could share with friends being bullied online to show their support.

The #BeStrong emojis were developed in collaboration with anti-bullying ambassador Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky, whose TED Talk about bullying has had more than six million views, first brought the idea for the #BeStrong emojis to Vodafone.

Others who helped create the #BeStrong emojis include Berkeley University Professor Dacher Keltner, the psychologist who advised on the creation of the characters for Pixar film Inside Out, semioticians who study signs and symbols and their use or interpretation, and anti-bullying NGOs including The Diana Award and ENABLE, a European Union project to help combat bullying.

Commenting in a video, Professor Keltner explained the importance of teens being able to offer support and show sympathy to their peers being cyberbullied. He said: “A lot of emojis can be limited for communicating emotions.  The bystander needs better tools. Specific emojis that they can send their friends to show that they are there for them.”

The global cyberbullying study, one of the largest of its kind, revealed that more than half of teenagers said cyberbullying is worse than face to face bullying and 43% believe it to be a bigger problem for young people than drug abuse.

Additionally, 38% said they did not tell their parents or guardians, as they felt ashamed (32%), scared their parents would get involved (40%), or worried what their parents might do (36%).

In addition, the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone’s philanthropic arm, as part of its digital family programme, is also helping to raise funds for anti-bullying NGOs by donating £1(€1.40) for every Twitter retweet or public Facebook like of Vodafone’s image of the #BeStrong emojis during Anti-Bullying Week in the UK.

Snapchat’s director of public policy, Micah Schaffer, said: “We’re proud to leverage our Geofilters product to help spread the BeStrong message with Snapchatters across Europe. We hope that sharing this message can help Snapchatters take a stand against bullying on our platform and beyond.”

Vodafone Foundation director, Andrew Dunnett, said: “The new generation that was born digital thrives in a world of constant connectivity, but there are clear risks for young people as well as benefits. Our research showed many teenagers find it difficult to help their friends when cyberbullying is happening, and the #BeStrong campaign has been created to help them convey emotional support.”

The initiative is a continuation of Vodafone’s commitment to helping children and their parents navigate through the social and digital world in a safe way.


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