On the internet, content is defined as any kind of user-generated material: articles, posts, comments, videos, audio, blogs, and more. It’s what entices people to come online and keeps them engaged sometimes for hours! But the mere existence of content is not sufficient. Content should be relevant and specific to all users, which could mean being available in their local language or specific to their region or culture. It should also be accessible and welcoming, allowing users to create and interact with the information comfortably and be part of online communities, where users can find advice or even inspiration.

The NBUs often turn to the internet when searching for content that’s not readily available in the physical world, such as medical advice or new recipes. However, the discoverability of relevant content is an issue for them for various reasons. Most of the internet today is in English, a language that is not native to the NBUs (See Language).

Online content often features Western subjects and doesn’t address the NBUs’ local concerns — such as upward mobility or aspirations  which makes relatable, local role models hard to find. Moreover, communities in NBU countries that are often found offline  such as housewives’ circles  are less represented online. This means the NBUs tend not to find the same solidarity, support or valuable advice online that they get from offline communities.

Progress is being made to create and surface content that’s relevant to the NBUs. Globally, a wave of websites is being produced in languages other than English, allowing more users to find information and perspectives that are specific to them. In Nigeria, some users are turning to private HIV-positive digital communities for critical medical advice. In India, online diversity communities are providing LGBTQ+ members in small towns with support and the courage to come out to their loved ones.


YouTube is starting to show search results from other languages with automatically translated captions, titles, and descriptions when relevant content in the local language isn’t available. This means that an NBU in Thailand can learn about quantum physics from a professor at MIT in Boston, or the NBUs in Brazil can explore the Grand Canyon from home with captions in their local language. Our hope is that global content will become more accessible and inclusive for all users globally through translated captions.

But more can be done. There are three content topics we can create and surface more often, to make the internet even more inclusive for the NBUs. The first is empowering content, which covers money and livelihood (such as job openings and basic financial literacy), and education and skill development (such as career skills and informal training). The second is sensitive content, which encompasses information on health and wellness, relationships, identity, sex and abuse, or online safety and privacy. The third is cultural content, which includes information ranging from food and beauty to clothing, cooking, and religion. The availability of such content  when presented in the languages and contexts of the NBUs  will go far in making the internet more relevant and welcoming for everyone, everywhere.


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