The French Tennis Federation is paying technology company Bodyguard.ai to provide French Open players with software that uses artificial intelligence to block negative and hateful comments on social media in real time.
Use of the AI software is optional, but free for all 700-800 players in the tennis tournament, including singles, doubles, junior and wheelchair competitors. The company stated that dozens of players had registered for the service as of the beginning of the week. The software is available for athletes to use on their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts.
“Tennis players’ social media accounts attract insults, death threats, and sometimes hateful, racist, and idealistic comments from trolls,” the league said in a statement shared with CNET. “By connecting to this new system, they will be protected from all kinds of harassment (discrimination, insults, ridicule, threats, etc.) and will be able to deal with their fans in complete safety and focus on their performance on court.”
In the statement, Yann Guerin, Head of Sports at Bodyguard.ai, called the anonymous hate often shared on social media a “sad truth”.
“The aim is to protect players and their mental health, directly and indirectly – because their entourage can also read these comments – and ban people who intend to spread hate and aggression,” Guerin said. Tennis is one of the sports most affected by this curse.
Participating players must scan a QR code before connecting to their social media accounts. Private messages are not moderated.
Bodyguard.ai said it was providing tournament organizers with daily reports showing the number of messages received and the number deleted, and would alert them even in the event of a specific attack. In the event of an FFT request, the company says it can “provide extracts of letters and the identities of the perpetrators in the event of legal action.”
Guerin told the Associated Press that the company’s software is constantly updated for new words or emoji to scan and that the software “needs less than 100 milliseconds to analyze a comment and delete it if it’s hateful or spam.”
Bodyguard.ai says it has developed its own AI technology that “identifies and blocks 90% of toxic content in real time”.
FFT CEO Caroline Fleisser told the Associated Press that the cost of the union was between $30,000 and $50,000. Bodyguard.ai did not respond to a request for comment.
As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, AI is being used in more industries – from workout companions for fitness to online personal shoppers. But AI and technology leaders agree that AI needs regulation and that “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority.”
The French Open started on May 28, with the women’s final scheduled for June 10 followed by the men’s final on June 11. However, there is a familiar face who does not play at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. Defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from the tournament due to injury.
Here’s how to watch the French Open, even without cable.
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