(FT) — Google has launched an artificial intelligence tool that identifies abusive comments online, helping publishers respond to growing pressure to clamp down on hate speech.
Google’s freely available software, known as Perspective, is being tested by a range of news organisations, including The New York Times, The Guardian and The Economist, as a way to help simplify the jobs of humans reviewing comments on their stories.
“News organisations want to encourage engagement and discussion around their content, but find that sorting through millions of comments to find those that are trolling or abusive takes a lot of money, labour and time,” said Jared Cohen, president of Jigsaw, the Google social incubator that built the tool.
“As a result, many sites have shut down comments altogether. But they tell us that isn’t the solution they want.”
Currently, the software is available to a range of publications that are part of Google’s Digital News Initiative, including the BBC, the Financial Times, Les Echos and La Stampa, and theoretically to third-party social media platforms including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
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“We are open to working with anyone from small developers to the biggest platforms on the internet. We all have a shared interest and benefit from healthy online discussions,” said CJ Adams, product manager at Jigsaw.
Perspective helps to filter abusive comments more quickly for human review. The algorithm was trained on hundreds of thousands of user comments that had been labelled as “toxic” by human reviewers, on sites such as Wikipedia and the New York Times.
It works by scoring online comments based on how similar they are to comments tagged as “toxic” or likely to make someone leave a conversation.
“All of us are familiar with increased toxicity around comments in online conversations,” Mr Cohen said. “People are leaving conversations because of this, and we want to empower publications to get those people back.”
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