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Periscope’s new live moderation tool could revolutionize abuse and spam reporting

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Twitter’s live-streaming app, Periscope, has introduced a new method of reporting abuse and spam in the comments section of a broadcast.

The user-led approach will rely on the audience of a real-time broadcast to review messages they deem to be obscene or junk. The Periscope community’s decision will result in blocks being placed on the activity of abusive users.

Here’s how it works: When you tune into a live stream, you will see the usual flurry of viewer comments stacking up on the left hand side of your smartphone screen. If you spot a post that you think is offensive, you can flag it as spam or abuse. Additionally, the system itself may target messages carrying phrases that it thinks fit in to those categories.

Periscope’s new moderation tool in action

In both cases, the alleged violation will be presented to a selection of viewers in the form of a vote. If the majority decides that the comment is abuse or spam, the perpetrator will have their ability to chat disabled temporarily. Repeat offenders will be completely restricted from chatting during the remainder of the live stream. As previously mentioned, all this will occur in real time during the course of a live video.

However, both broadcasters and viewers can choose not to participate in the moderation process. The person hosting the live stream can opt out of having their broadcasts moderated altogether, and viewers can choose not be part of the jury committee in their settings.

“We’ve designed this system to be very lightweight – the entire process above should last just a matter of seconds,” states Periscope in a blog post. “We’re committed to developing tools to keep Periscope a safe and open place for people to connect in real time.”

What seems like a simple enough process could not have come at a better time for the app. Over the past few years, social media sites — including Periscope’s parent company, Twitter — have been repeatedly condemned for not appropriately dealing with trolls and bots on their respective services. If Periscope’s live moderation tool is a success, it could be adapted to fit other platforms in the future.

Although the jury is still out on the new feature, the moderation method, which is touted as “transparent” and democratic by the live-streaming app, could end up revolutionizing the way users report abuse and harassment online. Judging by its ongoing rivalry with Twitter, you can be sure that Facebook Live will be paying close attention to the Periscope update.

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