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Toxic Comments

Leveraging Google’s Perspective API, you can now set a Toxicity Threshold for Talk (0.8 or 80% is the default), which works like this:

  • If a comment exceeds the threshold, the commenter is warned that their comment may be toxic, and are given the chance to modify their comment before posting
  • If the revised comment is below the Toxicity Threshold, it is posted and displayed normally
  • If the revised comment still exceeds the Toxicity Threshold, it is not displayed on the stream and instead is sent to the Reported queue for moderation
  • If the moderator accepts the comment, it’s displayed on the stream; if it’s rejected, it will not be displayed
  • Moderators see a Toxic Probability Score on toxic comments in the Moderation queues

Read more about Coral’s take on toxicity on our blog.

What is the Perspective API?

The likely toxicity of a comment is evaluated using scores generated from Perspective API. This is part of the Conversation AI research effort run by Jigsaw (a section of Google that works on global problems around speech and access to information).

Perspective API uses machine learning, based on existing databases of accepted/rejected comments, to guess the probability that a comment is abusive and/or toxic. It is currently English only, but the system is designed to work with multiple languages.

In order to activate our plugin, each news organization applies for an API key from Jigsaw (click “Request API access” on this site.) Sites can also work with Jigsaw to create an individualized data set specifically trained on their own comment history.

Perspective API was released earlier this year, and is currently in alpha (meaning that it is being continually refined and improved.) Jigsaw should certainly be praised for devoting serious resources to this issue, and making their work available for others, including us, to use.

We’ve talked with their team on several occasions, and have been impressed by their dedication and commitment to this issue. These are smart people who are trying to improve a broken part of the internet.

How do I add the Toxic Comments plugin?

To enable this behavior, visit the talk-plugin-toxic-comments plugin documentation.

Request an API Key

You can read more about Google’s Perspective API and/or request an API key here: