Alphabet's AI-powered Chrome extension hides toxic comments

'Tune' works with Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

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Saqib Shah
March 12, 2019 9:47 AM

Alphabet offshoot Jigsaw is launching a Chrome extension designed to help moderate toxic comments on social media. The new open-source tool, dubbed "Tune," builds on the machine learning smarts introduced in Jigsaw's "Perpesctive" tech to help sites like Facebook and Twitter set the "volume" of abusive comments. Using "filter mix" controls, users can either turn toxic comments off altogether (what's known as "zen mode") or show selective types of posts containing attacks, insults, or profanity. Tune also works with Reddit, YouTube and Disqus.

Jigsaw admits that Tune is still an experiment, meaning it may not spot all forms of toxicity or could hide non-offensive comments. "We're constantly working to improve the underlying technology, and users can easily give feedback right in the tool to help us improve our algorithms," C.J. Adams, Jigsaw product manager, wrote in a blog post.

Though it doesn't work across the entirety of the web, the sites it does support are all grappling with various forms of toxicity. Twitter has its alt-right meddlers and Nazis; Facebook has struggled with anti-vaxxers of late (not to mention foreign interference during elections); YouTube has been forced to lock down comments on videos of young kids due to pedophilic comments; and Reddit has banned subreddits prone to spreading conspiracy theories.

Notably, a recent Recode article about Twitter's focus on improving the health of its service noted it was already tapping Google's Perspective AI to help track toxicity. Google has also implemented Perspective on YouTube, according to CNET, giving channel owners the option to block comments identified as abusive by the algorithm.

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At the same time, frequent abusers have created their own systems to help bypass moderators altogether. Notorious social media site Gab -- known as "Twitter for the alt-right" -- recently released its own extension that puts an alternative comments section on any website.

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Alphabet's AI-powered Chrome extension hides toxic comments