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How AI can reduce online hate

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Sporting clubs around the world are seeing player welfare under threat from social media abuse. An AI-powered solution can help tackle it head on.

It’s the biggest issue in sport today


England’s recent heartbreaking loss in the final of the Euro 2020 tournament highlighted the disturbing trend of targeted social media abuse being directed at footballers, particularly players of colour.

As kickoff for season 21/22 draws closer, a study by the Professional Footballers Association found that 43% of Premier League players have received targeted and explicitly racist abuse online. The Premier League also revealed that 70% of harassment is coming from outside the UK.

Researchers mapping conversation trends throughout the Euro 2020 final found that “the structure of online discussions, where individual comments are shared rapidly among posters, amplified this content into an online firestorm.”

Protecting player and staff welfare is incumbent on clubs across all sports in all countries, and day-to-day management of online harassment is also falling to them.

To date, there have been only a handful of prosecutions under the law for abusive messages. Clubs of all sizes are desperate to do more to look after their players and staff.

Social media platforms have been constrained from effectively managing the problem by the high number of reports their human monitoring teams receive.

Sports authorities may not have the resources to deal with it on a league-wide level. Clubs wanting to stop abuse reaching players can engage social media teams to monitor, an ultimately distressing and unsustainable task.

This is where AI comes in.

Women's football

Smart detection, maximum efficiency


Pattr has launched a brand and community safety initiative to help sporting codes and clubs proactively #StopOnlineAbuse on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Using sentiment analysis, intent and image classification, we can detect harassment in multiple languages, through changing coded online discourse, and even emojis, to protect players, staff, and the community.

In reducing real harm being caused by people reading abuse, we also aim to combat the thrill of users posting this material.

In reducing real harm being caused by people reading abuse, we also aim to combat the thrill of users posting this material.

Our multifaceted solution enables clubs to handle the issue in a number of ways:

  • Comms teams can manage posts on a per platform basis – hiding, reporting or blocking the messaging in the order of risk and prioritisation (rather than chronologically).
  • They will then have a range of options to deal with abuse, including identifying, escalating and allowing the brand to report and block the user.
  • In some jurisdictions, the posts can be highlighted to authorities.
  • We can capture these posts in one place to monitor the extent of the problem and pass it on to administrators and authorities to show what is happening.
  • Our Listen & Learn analytics function can point to trends and allow campaigns based on activities or emerging issues and topics.


A world class defence against harassment


Not only has Pattr spent years developing best-practice brand protection tools for social media, but we have significant experience working with not-for-profit mental health organisations including Lifeline, Butterfly Foundation, R U OK?, and have run a successful Twitter conversational marketing campaign for The Emirates FA Cup.

Utilising our Conversational AI Platform Pattr and bespoke trained natural language models, we can quietly sit behind social platforms to help brands report, hide, and block abusive comments and accounts.

This means that players, fans, and the community will have reduced exposure to damaging comments when they open up their social media feeds, and our solution can help brands mitigate risk and spend less time having to manage the issue.

Would you like to learn about how we can help you protect player welfare? Contact us for a confidential discussion today.

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