Artificial Intelligence

Google Debuts Troll-Fighting AI Tool to Moderate Online Comments

Image Credit: Google Jigsaw.

Trolls are commonplace online, with close to a third of American internet users witnessing harassment online and nearly half personally experiencing it. To help combat internet trolls, Google’s technology incubator Jigsaw and Counter Abuse Technology Team last Friday launched Perspective, “an early-stage technology that uses machine learning to help identify toxic comments,” according to the blog post announcement.

Perspective works by reviewing comments and scoring them based on how similar they are to comments that are typically considered negative or “toxic,” the blog post explained. “To learn how to spot potentially toxic language, Perspective examined hundreds of thousands of comments that had been labeled by human reviewers. Each time Perspective finds new examples of potentially toxic comments, or is provided with corrections from users, it can get better at scoring future comments.”

Available through an API, Perspective is intended for members of the Digital News Initiative and other publishers and platforms. The New York Times, The Economist and more news organizations have already tested Perspective for their comment sections and found that it has significantly reduced labor-intensive work for staff, who have to sort through tens of thousands of comments each day.

Ultimately, however, publishers can decide what to do with the API, Google’s Conversation AI product manager told Wired. The tool could easily be adopted for higher education and K–12 district websites, social media pages and anywhere else comment sections exist, as a way to prevent online harassment and cyberbullying. Google said in the post that it hopes the tool will help improve conversations online.

Perspective is available in the TensorFlow open source library and Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Platform. It is in the early stages of research and development and interested developers can request API access.

To learn more, visit the Google blog.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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