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French Open offers players tool to filter out online abuse

The French Open is offering players at this year’s tournament free access to a tool that will filter hateful messages on their social media platforms in a bid to prevent cyberbullying and harassment, organisers said on Monday.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) said that artificial intelligence will be used to moderate comments players receive on posts in real time – with responses analysed in less than 200 milliseconds – and care will be taken about what is censored.

“As part of its strategy to take care of the players’ mental health, the FFT decided to collaborate with ‘Bodyguard’ to fight against cyberbullying,” the FFT said in a statement.

“A team of linguists creates word patterns that enable the system to be updated in real time according to what is posted on social media, in order to generate a more contextual analysis.”

The FFT added that the technology will be used to protect all official FFT and Roland-Garros social media accounts as well as those of players who opt for it for the duration of the Grand Slam and at least a week after the tournament has ended.

Social media platforms that will be monitored are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Discord.

“We will not accept any form of violence at our tournament,” FFT director Caroline Flaissier said.

“We’re very proud to be the first Grand Slam tournament to offer players a solution that efficiently protects them against cyberbullying.

“We want to protect players from this damaging behaviour, to enable them to be in peak mental condition when they compete in the tournament.”

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