New GoBubble Community technology to protect A-Leagues athletes from racist, sexist and homophobic abuse on social media

It has become one of the unfortunate characteristics of modern sport: every two weeks, it seems, another club, league or athlete is forced to publicly denounce a racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise bigoted comment made on social networks.

The behavior is condemned, the target is supported, and sometimes a fan’s membership or subscription is canceled as punishment – that is, if the culprit is actually identified. Then the cycle begins again.

The A-Leagues, PFA and the GoBubble community have joined forces to deploy new technology designed to protect players from abusive social media posts.

Maybe, until now. In what is believed to be a world first, the A-Leagues have rolled out new software that uses machine learning technology to prevent abusive comments from being seen by the players they are directed to – and their thousands of followers. .

UK tech company GoBubble Community has teamed up with the A-Leagues and Australian Professional Footballers Players Union to introduce the automated filter to work on every player and club’s accounts in both men’s and women’s competitions.

It uses AI machine learning to scan, store and remember known offensive words, phrases, symbols, images and emoticons, and block and report any offensive messages so that the person behind the account does not see them, and neither. do their supporters. The offender’s comment is always delivered and visible to their followers, so it doesn’t infringe on freedom of speech, but none the wiser the target and the wider visibility of the comment is greatly reduced. The GoBubble website claims it works with 99% efficiency.

The A-Leagues and the Premier League believe that in the absence of any genuine action from social media companies, which is considered highly unlikely, the use of GoBubble’s technology is the best possible way to protect players. and athletes from the mental and emotional impact of online hate.

Josh Cavallo hailed the new technology as a

Josh Cavallo has hailed the new technology as a “game changer” for footballers.Credit:Getty

The move was hailed as a “game changer” by Josh Cavallo, the openly gay Adelaide United star who has previously slammed Facebook and Instagram for not doing enough to stop social media abuse, and called on police earlier this year to investigate the death threats made. against him.

The software was successfully tested in February on the Twitter profiles of Adelaide United, Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners, the teams involved in a men’s and women’s ‘Pride Cup’ double-header at Coopers Stadium – a match at the instigation of Cavallo, who last year became the first active male professional in the world to come out as gay.

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