MMA Director: Reflections on Safer Internet Day 2018

Today is a really important day, and unlike other big political meetings, there will actually be some real outcomes.

Safer Internet Day (SID) is a day that will grow in importance. Why? Because while many in the room today are digitally savvy, and while many if not most now have digital devices as extensions of ourselves, we haven’t really begun to understand the real impact this digital shift is having on every aspect of our lives. Yes, things are much easier and faster and more colourful but there are very real risks as well.  Some of them counter-intuitive.

Convergence isn’t just a buzz word: it is a lived reality. Anyone who has a smartphone has internalized convergence – the merging of a variety of technologies into one device. You can message, watch videos, write, do your diary, keep up with the news, play games, be legal, be illegal, bully, be bullied, be inspired, and oh yes you can still do something called “make telephone calls”. Convergence isn’t just on our phones, it exists within them, within entities and programmers. Facebook doesn’t just know who our friends are and recommend more, or show us cool stuff, they are just about to launch ‘Classified’ so you can buy and sell. Google doesn’t just know what you searched, it can tell you when to leave for a meeting and help you choose what car to buy.

Convergence has spread even further. Our digital reality has now brought just about everything and everyone together. We have the racists and rights activists, paedophiles and politicians, poets and pornographers, the serious and the silly, fascists and feminists, the fruitcakes and the finest minds, the awful and the amazing, the insipid and the inspiring, the corrupt and the champions of justice. The full spectrum from scum to mum. And we have all these increasing at a rate faster and more than we can begin to grasp. More than 400 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded EVERY minute and 1 billion Facebook posts every day!

This explosion of information means that in some sense we should, as Turkish Academic Zeynep Tufekci puts it be, “living in the golden age of freedom of expression”, where you can find anything, where all voices can be heard and opinions expressed.  This is true to a degree but already see that existing and emerging power dynamics mean that this isn’t the case. We have machines and algorithms deciding and filtering, but how do they do this and who decides? Those who shout louder, are more angry or emotional, gain more traction than the reasoned and considered. The extremists and fascists acquire an equivalence of voice beyond their support. Just look at the actions of Bell Pottinger.

The question, of course, is how we choose to respond to this. We could opt out and simply ban the internet and the emerging digital reality, which is well and fine but we will lose out on the huge benefits it brings.

This is why we are so thrilled today to be launching not only WebRangers with our brilliant, brilliant partners but also Media Transformers. For us, our best response is to equip the public, children and young people in particular with the necessary skills to navigate our emerging digital reality. We have no idea where it is going, but we can give young people the skills to help ensure we realize the amazing democracy that our country has the promise and potential to become.

In particular we focus on being critical, the ability to know how to find information, to be skeptical of what we consume, to behave online as we would like all to behave in our analogue world – with decency, respect for human rights and dignity – and to have fun and reach our potential along the way.

But there is another critical set of skills that this year’s WebRangers and Media Transformers will be acquiring.  What the explosion of fake/dodgy news has shown is that with the explosion of sources of information it is absolutely critical that our young people know not only how to find information and exercise their digital rights in a safe environment online, but also that they know who to trust and where to find credible information. These skills, recognized by the visionaries and progressives in our education system are not just nice to have but increasingly will be essential than drivers licences!  It is highly likely that the young people in this room won’t need drivers licences in 15 years but they will need these skills. Without these skills, not only do we expose our children to the extreme risk those would seek to beguile and defile them but we also set them at a disadvantage to their digital development.

This is why this day is so critical. But there is one final issue of convergence I need to stress. This is that convergence isn’t just our devices, programmes and information – it is also our approach. Media is no longer the exclusive preserve for those who produce it.  Our WebRangers this year will produce amazing videos of their own. Government is no longer the only big player in the room. We have tech companies who themselves are grappling with the same challenges, of how to weed out and combat hate speech, bullying and misinformation. These things matter and they matter profoundly.

This is why WebRangers works – because we have the relevant critical partners involved. We have the platforms like Google and Facebook, we have the operators like MTN, we have the experts like ourselves, PPM and Digital You and we have our democratically elected government partners like the FPB.

So, this launch is about Safer Internet Day, about WebRangers and Media Transformers. It is also about taking clear, focused step towards building and protecting our democracy and freedom of expression. So, for all of those who you who will be doing it this year, know that not only will you learn new things and acquire new skills, you will also be playing your part in making our world a better place.

William Bird

MMA Director

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and partners are proud to announce the successful launch of the 2018 Web Rangers Programme, on Safer Internet Day (SID), 06 February 2018.

The programme was launched in Cape Town and Johannesburg with both events bringing together civil society, children, educators, government and the private sector to promote online safety and positive use of the internet, in line with the 2018theme for SID.

SID is an internationally celebrated day and therefore provided an opportunity for Web Rangers to share important lessons locally on online safety with hundreds of young people in other parts of the country who are not directly involved in the programme.

Web Rangers is an international digital literacy programme implemented in various countries such as New Zealand, India and Kenya. The programme is designed to allow young people to gain critical skills and knowledge around online safety. These digital champions use their skills to make the world a better place through innovative campaigns that promote safe internet usage and champion their rights in the digital world. In South Africa, the initiative is led by MMA in South Africa together with local partners, Google SA, Facebook, the Film Publication Board (FPB), MTN, PPM Attorneys and Digital You.

The activities for the day included messages from programme partners, industry experts and 2017 Web Rangers Ambassadors who shared their messages of online safety in line with Safer Internet Day.

Erin McKay, from McAuley House, spoke during launch in Joburg said:

“We as Web Rangers don’t actually go around rescuing people like “Superman” or “Ironman”, but what we do is teach people how to be safe online and by doing this we are able to help more people, than “Batman” ever could!” 

Other selected schools were also invited to participate in an interschool digital literacy competition where learners played MMA’s Hashplay Board game, an edutainment game centred on online safety and general knowledge that allows participants to learn about safety while competing against each other.

Since its inception in 2016, the programme has made successful gains with over 300 young people inducted into the programme, therefore reaching direct and indirect beneficiaries (conservatively calculated at 900 additional people) through the programme.

During the launch, Web Rangers Programme coordinator, Phakamile Khumalo stated, “This year will see Web Rangers expanding on its successes by piloting the programme, specifically looking at recruiting from the Western Cape Integrated Community Access Network (I-CAN) centre. This will increase our reach to include an additional 50 learners in the Western Cape, as well maintaining our Gauteng intake of 200 learners.”

2018 Safer Internet Day highlights: 

MMA director, William Bird welcomes guests and attendees & officially launches the 2018 Web Rangers Programme.

MMA director, William Bird welcomes guests and attendees & officially launches the 2018 Web Rangers Programme.

2017 Web Ranger ambassadors- Erin Mc Kay and Palisa Makhohlisa delivering a speech on their experiences as Web Rangers.

2017 Web Ranger ambassadors- Erin Mc Kay and Palisa Makhohlisa delivering a speech on their experiences as Web Rangers.

2017 Web Ranger ambassadors with Facebook team members Akua Gyekye & Emilar Gandhi, McAuley teacher Zita Jurgens and MMA director William Bird.

2017 Web Ranger ambassadors with Facebook team members Akua Gyekye & Emilar Gandhi, McAuley teacher Zita Jurgens and MMA director William Bird.

For enquiries on 2018 Safer Internet Day please contact:

Ayabulela Poro

Head of Children’s Programme


Phakamile Khumalo

Web Rangers Coordinator

Media Monitoring Africa

Tel: +2711 788 1278

Celebrate Safer Internet Day with MMA, Facebook, FPB, Google and partners

Media Invitation

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and partners invite media to celebrate Safer Internet Day (SID) on Tuesday, 06 February 2018 at Facebook in Johannesburg. SID aims to, “raise awareness of emerging online issues and chooses a topic reflecting current concerns.”

Join us as we hear from children as well as representatives from leaders in the digital space such as Facebook on how South Africa can keep its children safe and in line with this year’s SID theme “Create, connect and share respect”.

On the day, MMA will also launch its 2018 Web Rangers programme, which bring together civil society, children, educators, government and the private sector to promote online safety and positive use of the internet. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has partnered with Google, Film and Publications Board (FPB), Facebook, PPM Attorneys, MTN & Digital You on this unique programme where young people are champions of online safety and use their skills to make the world a better place through innovative campaigns.

Selected schools from Johannesburg will participate in the celebrations by taking part in a range of activities aimed at highlighting digital safety.

This event is by RSVP ONLY.  Contact details are provided below:

2018 Safer Internet Day Celebrations

Date: Tuesday, 06 February 2018.

Venue: Facebook, Johannesburg (Details by RSVP)

Time: 10:00 – 14:00

To make a reservation please contact:

Ayabulela Poro

Head of Children’s Programme


Phakamile Khumalo

Web Rangers Coordinator

Media Monitoring Africa

WEB RANGERS LEAD SA: 16 Days of Activism against violence & abuse online

As part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, taking place 25 November 2017 – 10 December 2017, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and Lead SA will launch a series of stories created by Web Rangers that highlight the abuse and violence faced by young people online.

As we all know, the internet & various social media platforms present many opportunities such as accessibility of information for all and have the potential to act as a platform for voicing one’s opinion, learning and addressing inequality, and allows for significant creative expression. The sad reality is that with great potential comes a great risk, especially for children. The dark side of the internet and social media is that it is less explicit, covert, harder to distinguish and can take place any hour of the day! Every time a young person gets on Facebook or WhatsApp, they face the risk of being cyber-bullied or being exposed to sexual and emotional abuse, or inappropriate content which inhibits them from taking full advantage of the internet to better their lives and that of others.

To bring awareness to the dangers of these cyber ills, Web Rangers will use their existing 2017 online safety campaigns to create a story that will be posted on the Instagram Platform as part of the initiative.  All the stories will form part of a series of stories that speak to online safety for South African youth. These stories will be supported online and on-air by Lead SA.

Follow this awesome initiative by simply following our Instagram page @webrangerslead. You can also use the #PLUS during 25 November 2017 – 10 December 2017 and be part of the online safety movement!

Here are the 2017 Web Rangers campaign winners – check out their videos!

As part of the project, Web Rangers are expected to design a campaign that will promote safe, savvy, and ethical use of social media and the internet.  This year we had 13 High schools and 4 primary schools participating in the programme, and their campaigns were adjudicated separately because they attended separate workshops. A total of 17 campaigns were received out of a total of 17 schools that participated in the 2017 Web Rangers programme.  The 17 campaigns were adjudicated by MMA Web Ranger Coordinator, Phakamile Khumalo and two of the programme’s partners (Sipho Mkhwanazi from FPB & Diana Schwarz from PPM). From this adjudication, the top 5 were selected (3 high schools and 2 primary schools). They further went under external, independent adjudication by Banarto Park High school students: Presylia Maziezi & Sihle Manana, Dianne Mc Alpine, Lead SA Project Coordinator, Primedia Broadcasting, Aimme Blake, Head of Projects and Operations at Assemble. They adjudicated the top three from the high school campaigns and top two from the primary school campaigns and ranked the campaigns from accordingly.

Below are the top five winning videos:

Khutlo-Tharo Secondary School came in at first place in the high school category 


Madibane comprehensive school came in at second place in the high school category

Thaba Jabula Secondary School came in at third place in the high school category 

Park Senior Primary School came in at first place in the primary school category

Parkhurst Primary School came in at second place in the primary school category 

2017 Web Rangers Award Ceremony – the campaign winners are announced!

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is proud to announce Khutlo-Tharo Secondary School and Park Senior Primary as the overall winners of the 2017 Web Rangers Digital Literacy Campaign competition in the high school and primary school categories. MMA made the announcement during an awards ceremony held at The Pyramid Conference and Venue Centre in Johannesburg on 23 September 2017.

Web Rangers is an international programme implemented in various countries such as New Zealand, India and Kenya. In South Africa, the initiative is led by MMA in South Africa together with local partners, Google SA, Facebook, the Film Publication Board (FPB), MTN, PPM Attorneys and Digital You.

Web Rangers encourages young people to champion safer internet behaviours within their schools and communities through the creation of innovative campaigns that promote their rights and active participation in the digital world.

This year 160 children were recruited from 16 schools in Johannesburg and trained on how to navigate and take advantage of the digital space. According to the Web Rangers Project coordinator, the theme for this year was centred on using the internet to create a better South Africa. “Being a Web Ranger ambassador is not only about being informed about online safety. We hope the Web Rangers will continue to work towards a national call to action to ensure that young people take charge of their knowledge and extend it to other younger people so they too can realise the potential of the internet when used responsibly.”

The Web Rangers campaigns submitted for this year’s competition was adjudicated by a panel of judges including social media experts and children from MMA’s Children’s News Agency. According to Khumalo, both of the overall winning campaigns scored highly in terms of clear objectives, social impact and engaging content. “The campaigns showed a combination of technical skills and innovative and thinking in the execution of the campaign.”

Madibane Comprehensive High School came second and Thaba Jabula Secondary School’s campaign was awarded the third prize winner in the high school category. Both schools are based in Soweto. Parkhurst Primary was named runner-up in the Primary School Category.

Director at MMA, William Bird congratulated the winners, “not only have the winners shown great commitment to online safety and making SA a better place, they have also shone a bright light on the skills of our young people. Giving us hope for our future.”

2017 Web Rangers Training Workshops!

During the month of April 2017 – May 2017, 150 young people (aged 12 – 17) started their exciting journey into digital literacy and digital activism, by attending workshop where they learnt about the opportunities that the internet offers young people as well the measures they can take when society uses the Internet to harm them. They also gained critical skills on starting an online safety campaign within their schools and communities to drive internet safety.Guests got the first-hand experience from participating Web Rangers through song, play and dance.

The different workshops were held on the 22 April, 06 May & 20 May 2017 at McAuley House, Parktown West in Johannesburg and the participating schools were:

Almont Technical High school

Edenvale High School

Immaculata Secondary School

Jeppe High School for Girls’

Khutlo Tharo Secondary School

Kingsway Secondary School

Lakeside Secondary School

Lebohang Secondary School

Madibane Comprehensive High School

McAuley House (Primary & High school)

Park Senior Primary School

Parkhurst Primary School

Progress Comprehensive High School

Thaba Jabula Secondary School

Troyeville Primary School

Zitikeni Secondary School

Below are some of the exciting Web Ranger moments during all three workshops:

An excited Web Ranger contributing to a group discussion.

A Web Ranger contributing to a group discussion.


Web Rangers playing the Hashplay board game.


Web Rangers presenting on the dangers of cyberbullying.


Web Rangers practising their skit focusing on the dangers of sexting.

2017 Safer Internet Day: The launch of the 2017 Web Rangers Intake:

On Tuesday 07 February 2017, MMA  commemorated Safer Internet Day & Launch the 2017 Web Rangers programme. The event took place in Mahikeng, Mmabatho Civic Centre 2735 located in the North West. The event was an opportunity to share important lessons on online safety with hundreds of young people across Mahikeng who are not part of the Web Rangers programme. Two Web Rangers from the 2016 intake also attended and shared their personal journey and also relied on messages of online safety in line with Safer Internet Day.

MMA conducted three activities for the day that aimed to officially launch Web Rangers 2017.

These activities included:

  1. An Intro into what is Web Rangers: A short presentation into what is Web Rangers by our 2016  Web Rangers.
  1. Web Rangers topic discussion and activity Attendees also watched two 2016 Web Ranger campaign videos and discussed some of the critical elements that the video addresses in line with online safety.
  1. Balloon Challenge: For this exercise, learners were asked to go outside and stand in a line and instructed to follow the below.

Step 1 attendees were asked to hand write insults or mean things that have been said to them on a balloon.

Step 2 Then blow it up by hugging someone with the balloon in between them.

Step 3 they will challenge 3 other friends to do this mission, who will challenge another 3 friends, etc. This resulted in the start if a youth campaign to stop cyber bullying and verbal abuse.

Phakamile & Web Rangers


The 2016 Web Rangers Awards Ceremony:

MMA and partners conducted their final monitoring and evaluation and prize-giving workshop by hosting the 2016 inaugural South African Web Rangers Award Ceremony, which was held on 12 November 2016 at Marks Park Sports Club, Emmarentia in Johannesburg.

Guests were invited to celebrate the achievements of 161 South African Web Rangers (aged 14 – 17) and the amazing work they have done within their schools and communities this year to drive internet safety.

MMA also announced the top three campaign winners and awarded them their prizes.

The prizes:

Cheryl Dinkelmann, Senior Manager: Special Regulations and Consumer at MTN, was able to source out 20 tablets (worth R200 000) from Axiz workgroup and IT Master. MMA and partners managed to raise funds to buy five more tablets in order to secure the second prize and 11 Polaroid music boxes for the third prize.

Please find below the top three winners of the 2016 Web Rangers Campaign:

School Prize winner Prizes
Park Senior Primary School First prize winner (10 Web Rangers) An X touch Tablet, designer note book and pen
Immaculata Secondary School Second prize winner (15 Web Rangers) An X touch Tablet and box of chocolate
St Stithians Girls’ College Third prize winner (11 Web Rangers) Polaroid music box and Google goodie bag

Petronella Linders from DTPS and Digital Activist at Koketso Moeti were present and gave keynote speeches on the day. The event was a great success and highlighted the increasing support from diverse and influential stakeholders.

A sneak preview on what took place from the below pictures:


MMA Director, William Bird welcoming Web Rangers and guests!


Cheryl Dinkelmann for MTN awarding certificates of programme completion.


Immaculata Secondary School, who came in second place in campaign competition receive their prizes.

The Campaign competition:

The programme coordinator along with programme partners’ conducted site visits to assist learners in brainstorming and sharing ideas for their campaigns. The deadline for all campaigns was 12 September 2016 midnight.A total of 11 campaigns were received out of a total of 13 schools that participated in the 2016 Web Rangers programme.

First round adjudication:

The 11 campaigns were adjudicated by MMA Web Ranger Coordinator, Phakamile Khumalo and two of the programme’s partners ( Takalani Mavhali, from FPB and Hayley Owen from Digital You). From this adjudication, the top three were selected.

Second round adjudication:

The three campaigns went through further  external, independent adjudication by Tanika Zeidler and Sihle Manana students from Parktown Girls High School, Lulu Burger ICT Coordinator and Innovation at Kingsmead College, Diana Schwarz Senior Associate Phukubje Pierce Masithela Attorneys and Laura Pollecutt MMA board member. They adjudicated the top three and ranked the campaigns from first to the third prize.

Two Web Rangers go to the U.S:

Keenan Adams and Nomdumiso Shange were selected as the two Web Ranger winners that would represent the 2016 South African Web Rangers at the International Web Rangers Summit taking place in the USA, Mountain View San Francisco. They were chosen because of the outstanding leadership potential they demonstrated in the written motivation given to us as part of the first leg of the programme.

The International Web Rangers Summit took place on 30 September 2016. Guardians from MMA (Phakamile Khumalo) and FPB (Takalani Muvhali) were selected to accompany the Web Rangers to the summit. They travelled from the 29 September 2016 and returning on the 01 October 2016.

For the duration of the trip, both guardians were required to:

  • Take the role of guardian by accompanying the two Web Rangers that had been selected to attend the Summit
  • Partnership building and networking on behalf of the South African Web Rangers project
  • Be available to share their experiences with other Summit attendees.
Keenan Adams and Nomdumiso Shange

Keenan Adams and Nomdumiso Shange


Web Rangers SA launch- Safer Internet Day 2016

The Web Rangers programme was launched on Safer Internet Day, Tuesday 09 February 2016 at McAuley House in Johannesburg. MMA together with partners successfully launched and piloted the Web Rangers programme in South Africa, with the aim to promote online safety, digital literacy and cyber-security for 150 young people in 13 schools around Gauteng. The programme made successful gains during the pilot phase. Although most of the children who participated in the programme had some form of a digital literacy project at their schools, approximately 80% indicated that their participation in Web Rangers was much more valuable as they gained more knowledge about online safety.

The schools that participated:

  • McAuley House
  • Park Senior Primary School
  • Immaculata High School
  • Zitikeni Secondary School
  • John Orr Technical School
  • Thaba Jabula
  • Progress Comprehensive School
  • Madibane High school
  • Edenvale High school
  • St Stithians Girls’ College
  • Kingsway Secondary School
  • Jeppe High School for Girls
  • St John’s College

Below are pictures of some of the amazing workshops that were conducted and the creation of the South African Web Rangers logo: