Words can be hurtful – especially if they’re constantly coming from a cyberbully but a new online tool called Reword can block or transform those messages before they are sent.
Reword is Australian-made technology can detect a range of cruel, intimidating, insulting and hateful phrases in real time.
It then draws a red line through the offending words like a spell checker and prompts the writer to reword their message or post.
Reword is designed to make users change the way they communicate and realise the impact hurtful messages can have on others.
More than 450,000 Australian were the victims of cyberbullying in 2013 while 65 per cent of 18-29 year-olds in the US have been harassed online.
And 78 per cent of young people bullied online are between 10 and 15 years old.
“We know firsthand the impact bullying and abuse can have on the wellbeing of young people,” says Chris Tanti, CEO of headspace – the company behind Reword.
“Reword has the potential to change the way people communicate online, not just here in Australia but across the globe.
“Sadly, online bullying is endemic. We’re encouraged that this is a tangible online tool that will genuinely help change behaviour and reduce incidents of bullying.
“The pressures on children in social media are intense. Reword is one way we can help empower them in real time.”
Studies carried out by headspace has shown 79 per cent of young people aged 12-15 years old are willing to rewrite their messages when they see the red lines
At the moment Reword only works as a plug-in on the Google Chrome browser which is used on many school-issued laptops and computers.
It is expected to roll out to as extensions to other popular browsers in the near future and possibly even a smartphone app.
The database of intimidating and abusive words and phrases identified by Reword is also growing with users able to contribute entries to expand the lexicon even further.
You can download the free extension for the Google Chrome browser from www.reword.it.