JIGSAW, ALPHABET'S INCUBATOR for interesting new ideas, has come up with its latest release: a browser plug in for its sister firm's Chrome browser. While some of Alphabet's more wacky experiments involve spreading the internet via balloon, or burritos via drone, this latest project just tries to rid the world of jerks online.
In some ways, that's the biggest challenge yet.
The Chrome extension is called Tune, and it uses AI to automatically moderate comments according to your preferences, picking off contributions by the level of toxicity, theoretically leaving comments as a respectful place of Socratic debate. In fact, at its toughest moderation setting - ‘Zen mode' - it removes comments entirely, blocking your most destructive impulses to view what intellectual nuggets MAGAfan1994 might be contributing to the sum total of human knowledge.
To do this analysis, of course, the comments Tune filters have to first be uploaded to Google's servers, which may feel like a small invasion of privacy. But like most people in the world, Jigsaw has no interest in your internet comments, and will apparently delete them as soon as they've been assessed by the toxicity Geiger counter.
The open-source extension is built on Perspective: an API built by Jigsaw and the Google Counter Abuse Technology team a couple of years ago. It's already been used by both The New York Times and The Guardian to help with moderation, and this extension now means it's available web-wide.
Well, almost. Currently, you can deploy the extension to airbrush comments on YouTube, Reddit, Facebook and Disqus - the last of these is the one we use below the line here, if you want to give it a try. Just download it here, set the level between ‘zen' and ‘blaring' and enjoy your new quieter internet. µ
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