The incredible ways AI is preventing abuse and teen suicide

By Sam Brake Guia August 24, 2017
AI saves teenagers from suicide

AI has recently been used to save teens from suicide and combat systematic cyber bullying of individuals and corporations on the social media battleground. 

According to federal health officials this month, suicide rates among are now at the highest point in the past 40 years.

Despite the fact that rates were even higher during the 90s, we have seen a worrying spike in recent years, bringing the subject back into the limelight. From 2007 to 2015 rates rose from 10.8 to 14.2 per 100,000 male teenagers and from 2.4 to 5.1 per 100,000 female teenagers. In 2011, for the first time in more than 20 years, the number of deaths from suicide was higher than that of homicide.

Cyber bullying abuse With multiple rates on the rise, it can be hard for society to pinpoint the best course of action to counteract the disturbing increase, however one Atlanta based startup had the idea to use AI to aid in preventing these tragic deaths. Bark is an app that is designed to protect children and teens from online by using artificial intelligence to analyze their social media, text and email messages. It alerts the teens parents if it finds evidence of cyberbullying, suicidal thoughts, sexting or other risky online behavior.

Already the app has had a huge impact on a number of families and has analyzed more than 500 million messages to date, according to CEO Brian Bason. Bason says that 25 parents have contacted him to say the app saved their child’s life by alerting them to their suicidal intentions.

AI has not only been saving teenage lives from suicide but also reducing cyber bullying.

In the wake of recent events in Charlottesville, USA, social media has recently erupted over the strong presence of white supremacist beliefs and rallies. The president’s ambivalent response towards the events has only incited further frustration. The scuffles have also drawn in a number of large profile companies which have felt a need to publicly voice their opinion on the matter. This has triggered anger within online communities that support the white supremacy movement, and as a result, some companies have been targeted   

The startup Bubble, which is a dating app designed to empower women, was recently targeted by “groups with white supremacist affiliations”. On Thursday the company sent an email to users asking them to report hate speech or hate symbols in user profiles, including neo-Nazi symbols such as swastikas.

“Last week, a neo-Nazi media site published an article to their community urging them to call and email our team with harassing statements, given Bumble’s stance towards promoting women’s empowerment,” according to the email.

This type of abuse is not uncommon from disgruntled groups or unpleasant individuals. However, AI has once again been used as a solution, this time by the startup, BrandBastion. The Finnish company deals with social engagement by automating the management of millions of comments and social interactions. The AI is able to combat negative and abusive comments in a fast and effective way, in real-time with everyday users.

cyberbullying abuse There is a lot of great stuff with social media,” explains the CEO, Jenny Wolfram, to Good News Finland. “It enables people to connect, also with the brands that they love. But there is also a dark side.”

“There is a lot of engagement that is not in the best interest of people and fans that are trying to communicate with their brand,” Wolfram explains. “This could be spam, phishing attempts, threats, malware, pornography or free gaming gems being spread.”

Over the past few weeks, we have seen how dark and troubling the internet can be, like the case of the website The Daily Stormer, which was taken down due to its disgusting comments on the death of Heather Hayer. The site may have been removed, but there is very little that can be done to stop putrid hate and violence that these sites spread, as they will constantly keep popping up under new domains, like an infuriating game of whack-a-mole.

Nonetheless, with the help of innovative startups like Bark and BrandBastion utilizing the revolutionary new technology which is available thanks to AI, we can help reduce online abuse towards individuals and businesses everywhere.