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Twitter acquires Smyte to combat online hate; strands Smyte’s clients

Twitter announced that it was acquiring the “trust and safety as a service” startup Smyte, to better address “challenges in safety, spam and security more quickly and effectively.

Found in 2014 by former engineers at Google and Instagram, Smyte offers tools to address online abuse, harassment, spam, and security to various only platforms.

Online harassment on the platform has been flagged as often as reaching dangerous proportions. The level of online discourse across the web has become increasingly hate-filled and abusive. The company has attempted to combat this problem with new policies to reduce hate speech, threats of abuse and rape, and harassment on its platform. It is widely acknowledged that the problem is much larger, and a lot more needs to be done before it is solved.

Twitter continues to be a host for trolls, abusers, bots, and scams which is what it has brought in Smyte for.

Smyte’s technology will be integrated with Twitter for monitoring and managing reports of abuse while preventing the burgeoning of bots, scammers and a number of other threats typical to Twitter. Twitter says it’s broadening its “hateful conduct policy” and rules against abusive behaviour to encompass accounts that abuse or threaten others through their profile information, like their username, display name, or profile bio.

In India, Bollywood actors and actresses, journalists, especially women and cricketers are trolled online because somebody or the other is pissed off with such individuals for expressing political positions, opinions and sometimes harmless tweets are viciously attacked and threatened with physical harm. It doesn’t help matters that Twitter supports six Indian languages — Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Bengali, and Hindi. It has told BuzzFeed News that its algorithms have the ability to detect abuse in every language offered on the platform. But as per a Buzzfeed report, ‘sources close to Twitter told BuzzFeed News that Twitter is at a “very early stage of tackling regional language abuse in India and is still figuring out what the company can do about it.”’

Twitter ditches Smyte’s clients overnight

Smyte had a substantial client base which Twitter left stranded after the acquisition. While Twitter had earlier told TechCrunch that it would be “winding down” Smyte’s business with existing clients, it has now disabled access to Smyte’s API to its existing clients with little warning. Customers got a phone call, and within an hour or less, the service was gone. Some of these platforms had multi-year contracts with Smyte, which now evidently stand suspended or null.

Its present clients include Indiegogo, GoFundMe, npm, Musical.ly, TaskRabbit, Meetup, OLX, ThredUp, YouNow, 99 Designs, Carousell, and Zendesk – big name brands that used Smyte’s feature set in a variety of ways to combat fraud, abuse, harassment, scams, spam, and other security issues. Remember that these clients didn’t get time to transition to a new safety provider. And safety is not a service a platform pull the plug on overnight, without facing a backlash from users.


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