Wimbledon employs AI to combat online abuse

In this post:

  • Wimbledon uses AI to fight online abuse, protecting players from harmful content.
  • Threat Matrix scans social media, flags threats and involves players in addressing issues.
  • AI technology at Wimbledon sets a new standard for player protection in sports.

Threat Matrix, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system is being used for this year’s Wimbledon tournament to protect players from online abuse. The technology scans social media posts for threatening, racist, sexist and harmful language directed at the players.

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The new measure, implemented by the All England Club, comes after several high-profile tennis players complained about severe harassment on the internet. Former US Open winner Emma Raducanu and Britain’s second-ranked female player Harriet Dart have both criticized social media hate, with Radacanu even deleting her social media apps.

AI technology shields players from harmful content

Threat Matrix, developed by Signify Group, scans and processes social media data from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram identifying inappropriate content for human review. This AI technology can detect inappropriate and harmful messages in 35 different languages, identify the senders, and help in taking appropriate actions. Wimbledon’s director Jamie Baker, announced that this technology will also be used at the US Open. 

The AI system provides a more comprehensive way to address online abuse by relying on player reports and monitoring social media actively for harmful content. When a concerning message is identified, the player is notified, and steps are taken in consultation with them. This approach ensures that players and their teams are actively involved in addressing and minimizing the abuse.

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Other sports events have proved the value of Threat Matrix already. World Rugby applied it in France during the 2023 Rugby World Cup to track down an Australian man who had sent death threats to a referee and his wife from his home country. The person was later charged with using a carriage service to menace or harass via online communication, thus exemplifying the dual role of artificial intelligence (AI) in safeguarding athletes against cyberbullying and bringing offenders to justice.

Wimbledon’s adoption of the Threat Matrix AI system shows the determination to look after players’ welfare during the championships. By introducing this system the All England Club has made clear its position against online abuse and demonstrated its proactive stance towards safeguarding players. This move could set an example for other sporting bodies worldwide, as it underlines the need to shield athletes from harm in the digital age.

Cryptopolitan reporting by Chris Murithi

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