DCU develops filter to fight cyber-bullies. [Herald.ie, by Alan O’Keeffe, 12/05/14]

Computer experts at the college have developed a prototype filter aimed at blocking hateful and offensive language detected on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The filter seeks to weed out terms of abuse, harassment, bullying and racial taunts.

The filter will use a variety of methods, including the use of semantics and word association.

DCU researchers are working with large multi-national partners such as Microsoft, Symantec and Intel in a bid to bring the filter to market within the next 18 months.

The troll trap is being developed at CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content, a DCU research centre funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

The centre’s commercial development manager Steve Gotz said it wants to develop a system that could detect content in messages, tweets or emails that could be harmful.

He said it was a particularly difficult challenge as bullying can be “very subtle in form, yet drastic in consequence”.

The system being developed could alert a parent or teacher that a child has posted something offensive. It may hide or remove the harmful message or alert an employer by email about inappropriate language.

Such a system may one day help families like the parents of Wee Oscar’ Knox who became the victims of trolls.

The five-year-old, who died of cancer last week, had been the subject of sick troll activity on the internet.

Trolls posted messages that said the little Glasgow Celtic fan was “not the only boy in Northern Ireland with cancer”.