Feb 10, 2021 - Technology

Startup backed by Reddit co-founder helps Twitter users block trolls

Ina Fried

Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sentropy, a startup backed by Reddit co-founder Alex Ohanian, has spent much of its first year focused on helping protect digital platforms from abuse using machine learning. On Tuesday, it announced a new service aimed at helping Twitter users avoid abusive comments.

Why it matters: People, especially prominent women, people of color and LGBTQ people, encounter frequent online abuse and often have to first view inflammatory posts before they can take action, such as blocking or muting those doing the harassment.

  • "Today if you go on Twitter and are being harassed or dealing with hate speech, you have to see it to process it," says Sentropy VP of product Dev Bala. "The opportunity we are providing here is to programmatically deal with that and essentially pre-moderate the feed."

Details: Sentropy's new Protect service, now in beta, lets individuals choose to let Sentropy automatically take action on tweets or, if they prefer, simply flag potentially offensive content and let the individual decide what actions to take.

Between the lines: Sentropy CEO John Redgrave says that shortly after launching last June, the company heard from individuals wanting to see if the company’s enterprise-grade technology might also be made available to individuals. That, he said, prompted a couple months of thinking about what a consumer service could look like.

The big picture: Redgrave said that because Twitter already has tools and APIs for blocking and muting users, the platform was a natural place to start. But, he said, "The vision is not Twitter-specific. This is much bigger."

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