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New technology from Google to help identify trolls

Perspective reviewed comments posted by viewers online that was termed as abusive to understand how to spot potentially malicious language. Photograph: (Reuters)

WION Brussels, Belgium Feb 25, 2017, 08.14 AM (IST)

Alphabet Inc's Google and its subsidiary Jigsaw unveiled a new technology that will make the task of finding out who is posting abusive comments online easy. 

The technology, called Perspective, will come in handy for news organisations and online platforms in finding the identity of those who post such comments. The technology will review comments and score them based on how similar thaey are to comments people termed as "toxic" or likely to make them leave a conversation.

The technology has been tested on New York Times and the companies hope to extend it to other organisations such as The Guardian and The Economist as well.

"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. As a result, many sites have shut down comments altogether," Jared Cohen, President of Jigsaw, which is part of Alphabet, wrote in a blog post.

"But they tell us that isn’t the solution they want. We think technology can help," the blog post added.

Perspective reviewed comments posted by viewers online that was termed as abusive to understand how to spot potentially malicious comments.  

Jigsaw product manager, CJ Adams, said the company was open to rolling out the technology to all platforms including Facebook and Twitter, where trolling is a major concern. 

Perspective will not decide what to do with the commenst. The decision will rest with the publishers either to flag them or develop tools to help commenters understand the impact of theior writing. 

Cohen said a significant portion of abusive comments came from people who were "just having a bad day".

Facebook and Twitter are grappling with the menace of fake news in France, Germany and the United States. The social media platforms came under criticism for pushing fake news without any checks especially as it had a significant impact on the US presidential election. This has sparked a worldwide debate on holding the social media websites responsible for the content they host.

Jigsaw is offering the product free to publishers. It also hopes to support languages other than English soon, Cohen said. However, he said that the technology is new and could misinterpret sarcasm but it will improve soon. 

(WION with inputs from Reuters)
 

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