It’s official: selections have been made for Microsoft’s inaugural Council for Digital Good! We are eager to welcome 15 teens from across the U.S. to our Redmond, Washington, campus in early August for our first council summit.
In January, we announced we were accepting applications for a one-year pilot program for young people ages 13 to 17 to help lay the groundwork for a new approach to online interactions, and to further champion our work in digital civility.
We received hundreds of applications, which included detailed essays and videos about applicants’ lives online, their perspectives on Microsoft, and their hopes and expectations for the council experience. Young people told us they want to fight back against online bullying; they want to stamp out hate and bias across the web; they want to help make technology available to as many people as possible; and they want to encourage their peers and communities to treat each other with respect and dignity, both online and off.
Here are some application excerpts from three selected council members:
- “Being on the council will give me an opportunity to meet kids and adults who also are committed to developing ways that technology can make life better for all people … (A) major issue I would like to talk about is what in the real world would be considered hate speech. Online, there is a(n) invisible shield that exists, and I’ve sadly seen profile names, dialogue and comments that I’d best not repeat. It truly makes me sad, and I wish that people would have the better judgment to do what’s right, but solving this problem is also complicated.”
– 14-year-old from Oregon
- “There is no silver bullet solution to protect children and young people online. This is a global issue that requires a global response from all segments of society … As young people now have easier access to the internet, they also need to be educated on appropriate use of the internet. I will help youth and their parents/guardians understand that our digital footprint is important and that any information we post online is permanent and follows us for the rest of our life.”
– 13-year-old from Kentucky
- “Through the Council (for) Digital Good experience, I would be able to enhance my perspective of how to engage other youth to rally and make a difference in our world … Growing up with this technology, I am aware of the malicious things on the internet, but I also know all the potential the internet holds. The intersection of technology and humanity is critical to advance society.”
– 16-year-old from Maryland
Choosing individual council members was difficult because there were so many outstanding candidates. It was a highly competitive process, and in the end, we assembled a group with diverse life experiences, whom we hope will bring a wealth of views and perspectives to council discussions and activities. We selected nine young women and six young men, all of whom accepted, from 12 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington. We’re excited to begin engaging with the council in preparation for the August summit. Council members should be on the look-out for an invitation to a kickoff conference call in the coming weeks.
To those who were not selected for this pilot program, know that your voices are important and they were heard. We hope you will consider applying again, as we aim to grow the number of teens focused on advancing respect online and promoting our Digital Civility Challenge.
Our goal for the council is to help young people fully appreciate and understand the risks and potential harms associated with life online. The internet is truly the landmark invention of our lifetime, offering almost limitless opportunities to learn, play, grow and to connect with others. But, it’s not without risk. In turn, we hope to gain perspective from council members on the state of online interactions today; what might make the online space healthier, safer and more enjoyable; and reflect on how Microsoft can play a part in shaping that future.
Thank you to all those who submitted applications, and congratulations to our inaugural council members! We look forward to the next several months, and what we hope will lead to thought-provoking discussions, compelling projects and activities, newfound friendships and, of course, a healthy dose of fun — as we all work to grow a kinder, more empathetic and respectful online world. Follow council activities on aka.ms/CDG or by check-in on Facebook and Twitter with #CouncilforDigitalGood.
At the time of writing of this post, Jacqueline Beauchere’s title was Chief Online Safety Officer.
Tags: Online Safety