Google Chrome extension Reword flags your insulting messages

Posted at 11:42 PM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 23:42:11-04

If you’ve ever used the Internet, you’re probably no stranger to the passive-aggressive and downright insulting comments posted online.

A new Google Chrome extension, Reword, was created to stop users before they hit “send” on negative comments. The tool was developed in Australia by headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, in partnership with Leo Burnett Melbourne, to combat cyberbullying.

Reword has the unique potential to change online behavior by stopping insults before they are posted, Chris Tanti, CEO of headspace, said in a news release. It will not interfere with anything you do online unless you begin to use inflammatory language.

The tool will flag potentially hurtful comments by crossing them out with a red line and encouraging users to reword. The technology works similarly to spellcheck, by recognizing words and phrases that are considered unkind.

“Bullying has always existed, but technology has made it insidious — and near inescapable,” Tanti said in the news release. “Online bullies can target victims 24/7, they can do it anonymously and without anyone else nearby to call out the behaviour.”

Testing by headspace has shown that 79% of young people were willing to reword after seeing the red line. With 46.8% of students reporting having been bullied, according to headspace, developers are hoping Reword will be installed on school and company computers to help students learn good social media etiquette.

The free tool is available for anyone to download and use. Reword developers are encouraging people to contribute insults to help build the database of recognized negative terms to make the tool more intuitive.