New algorithm could put an end to online trolling

new algorithm could put an end to online trolling troll
You might want to think twice before posting something vitriolic beneath this story: Researchers from Stanford and Cornell Universities have developed an automatic algorithm to weed out online trolls and ban troublemakers from the communities they’re involved with.

The study is funded by Google, as Wired reports, and the academics working on the project were able to produce a system that only required five to 10 posts to be able to spot a troll. Bad spelling and grammar were among the key indicators, unsurprisingly, and the quality and legibility of a troll’s posts tended to degrade over time.

“We find that [antisocial users] tend to concentrate their efforts in a small number of threads, are more likely to post irrelevantly, and are more successful at garnering responses from other users,” explains the report, which looked at the posting history of online community members who had subsequently been banned.

Another pattern spotted by the researchers was increasingly negative reactions from other users, and increasing level of antisocial behavior in response. However, the number of censored posts didn’t show any discernable pattern — some “Future-Banned Users” (FBUs) had a lot of posts pulled by moderators, but others didn’t.

During the course of the study, 1.7 million users and 40 million posts from CNN, IGN, and Breitbart were looked at over the course of 18 months. The behavior of users who were banned was compared with the behavior of users of good standing, and you can probably guess which group used more negative language and profanities.

Ultimately, the study concluded that a troll-spotting algorithm could be useful to moderators, but shouldn’t be relied on exclusively: During testing, the algorithm falsely flagged up one well-behaved user for every four trolls it spotted. The researchers also suggested that giving antisocial users a chance to redeem themselves could be more effective than an outright ban.

[Image courtesy of Valery Sidelnykov/Shutterstock.com]

Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.

Blizzard says Overwatch endorsement system helped slash toxicity by 40 percent

Blizzard said that toxicity in Overwatch is down 40 percent, partly thanks to the addition of the endorsement system. The feature allows players to reward teammates and opponents who show good behavior during a match.

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 

How much!? British Airways glitch results in $4.2M quote for family vacation

Website errors sometimes cause flight prices to display at way below the correct price. But British Airways recently experienced the opposite issue when it tried to charge a family more than $4 million for a vacation in Mexico.

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.

You can now listen to Google Podcasts on your desktop without the app

The Google Podcasts app is no longer entirely necessary to listen to the podcasts it offers. With a simple tweak of the sharing URL, you can listen to a Google Podcasts podcast on your desktop or laptop without the app.
Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

Drunk shoppers spend $48B per year while intoxicated, mostly on Amazon

Drunk shoppers spend more than $400 per year, according to the results of a survey carried out by The Hustle. The drunk shopping industry is apparently worth $48 billion, and Amazon is turning out to be the biggest beneficiary.