the app to fight cyberbullying gets Italy with BNP Paribas Cardif

Launched in France in 2017, the social enterprise relies on artificial intelligence to fight against violence on the Web. BNP Paribas Cardif is partnering the startup to pioneer with FARE X BENE Onlus, a solution against cyberbullying designed for families.

Published on 11 Dec 2020

The internet and social media have revealed endless possibilities for companies and people; yet there are also a number of risks worth not underestimating: cyberbullying, violent content and episodes of online hatred are threats that teenagers are now well familiar with, albeit often complicated to prevent.

The application of is designed to combat the dangers of the digital world. Thanks to an artificial intelligence system the software can fathom the barrage of comments daily posted on the main social platforms, removing toxic and potentially harmful ones for users.

Founded in France in 2017, the Bodyguard app is now available in Italy, where a special cyberprotection solution dedicated to families is also being tested and developed in partnership with BNP Paribas Cardif and FARE X BENE Onlus, an association supporting the promotion and protection of the inviolable rights of the person.

We spoke with Managing Director Matthieu Boutard, to understand how the idea works and what its strengths are.

Cyberbullying: the danger of online hate

According to a report released by Osservatorio Indifesa – Terre des Hommes and ScuolaZoo last February, bullying and cyberbullying are the most feared threats by more than one in three adolescents, and more than 50% of children have witnessed this kind of abuse.

“Surfing the Internet can be really risky, especially for the youngest,” says Boutard. “Protecting against online hatred would not only allow us to make the web a safer place, but it could really help save lives. In such a context, educating young people about the proper use of the Internet, while fostering dialogue between parents and children, can be the cornerstone in the fight against cyberbullying”.

Learning how to recognize and manage these dangers can in fact protect children and adolescents from potentially worrying repercussions, which can lead to episodes of depression or social anxiety.

How Bodyguard, the app against cyberbullying works

The Bodyguard app is now available in English, French and Italian, regardless of country, and has more than 50,000 users.

Once installed, the app must be connected to social profiles, but can in no way publish content on behalf of the user or collect personal data. Conversely, the app protects in real time from hate comments received on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch.

Customizable moderation levels are available: Bodyguard can hide all content marked as harmful, or remove only content in certain categories selected according to user preferences. Regardless, the account owner may access the removed content and, if desired, restore it for all to be viewable.

“Thanks to its unique mix of artificial and human intelligence, Bodyguard technology can analyze up to 5 million comments per month,” said Boutard to InsuranceUp.

Bodyguard can recognize spelling errors, typing errors, texting language and the emoji language, while also taking into account the general context where messages are posted and their recipient as well.

“This allows a hate content detection rate of 90% and only 2% error,” said the Managing Director.

PoC with BNP Paribas Cardif and FARE X BENE Onlus

In Italy Bodyguard has started the Bodyguard project for Families, in partnership with BNP Paribas Cardif and FARE X BENE Onlus providing support in improving the Bodyguard algorithm, thanks to the direct involvement of Italian students, and is committed to support the spread of the app through its network of schools..

“The idea was straight away clear: providing parents with a tool to mentor children on the web, ensuring a correct approach to the digital environment and protecting them in real time from any form of hatred on social networks” said Boutard.

Bodyguard for Families offers in fact a service designed for parents of children and teenagers aged 7 to 17. The program must be downloaded and set on the child’s phone and, in addition to the traditional moderation operations, allows parents to receive real-time notifications in case their children are victims or authors of comments deemed offensive.

Considering the extremely delicate age, the app offers two levels of protection. Between 7 and 12, moderation is automatically set to a maximum for all categories of threats or insults. Between 13 and 17, however, the moderation level can be changed by the child independently, but the parent will be notified of any changes. In addition, parents will be notified if their child receives hate comments, but will not be able to read them or access the published content.

Bodyguard in fact is not intended to be a parental control tool, but rather wants to support adults and children in using the web, carrying out operations of education and prevention against the risks of social networks and gaming platforms.

According to Boutard, “the purpose is to encourage dialogue between parents and children, so that the latter open up and decide to share their experiences on the web, their doubts, their fears”.

Testing and future projects

Currently, Bodyguard for Families is being tested in Italy among the families of employees of BNP Paribas Group companies. In the future, however, the Company aims to make the service available nationwide: “We are confident of its success and intend to promote the Bodyguard for Families solution throughout Italy, perhaps with other features and functionality to improve the user experience”.

2021, then, will bring important news: “Bodyguard aims to become a benchmark for moderation. In January there will be the official launch in the USA, and during 2021 the technology will be translated into Spanish and Portuguese” explained Boutard. “We don’t know what the future holds for us, but we’re going to do everything we can to make the web a better place for everyone”.

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