From Internet trolls trying to be funny to downright disturbing hate speech on social media, the Internet can be a dangerous place for our mental health. An app called BullStop is trying to fix that. The app, which has just been launched on Google Play, was developed by scientists at Aston University and uses advanced AI algorithms to detect offensive content and block the user from seeing it. Initially designed for teenagers, the app can be used by anyone who wants to shield themselves from cyberbullying. BullStop can flag offensive content of any type, from spam links to threats, insults, and porn. Right now, the anti cyberbullying app is in beta stage and can only be connected to Twitter, but the developers are working on integrating it with Facebook and Instagram (which is the worst social media platform for cyberbullying).
How does it work?
BullStop is free to use and can be downloaded from Google PlayStore. Then, all you have to do is link it to your social media account. The app uses an AI algorithm to scan all the messages you receive and, with your approval, it automatically blocks you from seeing them. You can also manually customize your preferences if you want to block certain contact or type of content. Being based on artificial intelligence, BullStop learns the more you use it and becomes better at spotting offensive content in your DMs.
However, BullStop is an anti-bullying app, not a parenting control app, so all the messages that are blocked on social media aren’t redirected to the parents. The idea behind the app was to make teenagers feel safer online, and offer them a safe space to pursue their interests, not to involve parents and guardians.
BullStop also has a message checking feature that scans the text as you type it and warns you if it’s offensive. This way, you don’t send offensive messages without meaning to.
What is cyberbullying and why do we need to stop it?
The launch of BullStop came in a context where young people are spending more time online than ever before, but are also exposed to offensive messages that can affect their mental health. According to a recent report, 60% of parents with children aged 14-18 said that their children have been cyberbullied. Cyberbullying can happen anywhere online, from social media to forums and online games, and it can include behaviors such as name calling, spreading fake rumors, sending disturbing unsolicited content, threats, or stalking.
Just like regular bullying, cyberbullying can have a negative impact on a young person’s mental health, making them feel unsafe, harassed, or develop self-confidence issues. But if bullying is more controlled in schools and there are clear consequences for it, cyberbullying is harder to track and control, which is why apps like BullStop are excellent initiatives.