Bodyguard, the application at the service of players to fight computer harassment

This tool aims to filter the hateful comments received online by players on their social networks.

My first messages, I received them at the age of 15. They tell me: ‘we’ll kill you, we know you have a brother’. He’s violent and obviously has an impactThe French Elsa Jacquemot, 175th player in the world, thus described certain excesses of social networks, to the microphones of Radio France a few days before the start of Roland-Garros. Like her, every day, many players are harassed online. The Paris tournament crystallizes, as with any major tennis event, the number of hateful comments, which explodes.

To deal with this cyber harassment, the organization of the Parisian Major has made available to players, free of charge, since the start of the qualifiers, an application called “Bodyguard” to filter comments on their social networks and protect the mental health of the players. participants. .

A first at Roland-Garros

How does it work? The player flashes a QR code on his phone to allow the application to access all his networks, the application does the rest. “When a user writes a comment, we clean it up in real time and detect problematic words by analyzing the context. The word “skin” is a classic common noun. But “I’ll kill you” is a death threat“, explains Yann Guérin, director of the sports branch of the French company.

A team of linguists feeds artificial intelligence every day to detect offensive messages, even as users race in imagination to escape the moderators. “We learned that the “tree” emoji meant “Arabic.” So we trained the machine to detect this kind of thing“, continues Guerin.

An example of the blocked comments that can be found on Roland-Garros social networks.  (Emmanuel Rupied / Franceinfo: sports)

Created in 2018 by Charles Cohen and Mathieu Boutard, the instrument was tested by the Roland-Garros organization during the Australian Open a few months ago. Following the launch of its “integrity unit”, formed in 2019 with the aim of raising awareness among young French tennis players of the negative effects of social networks. “Tennis is one of the sports of choice for sports bettors and players are in particular demand on the secondary circuit“, warns the director general of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), Caroline Flaissier, who has also put the training online to provide support to licensees.

“There’s more and more hate”

And no one is safe. “This is hate speech, name calling, death threats, lots of: ‘stop tennis’. At my age, I might have a little more perspective on this. At 20 I would not have lived it the same way“, Alizé Cornet died, in a press conference. A statement shared by the world number one, Iga Swiatek who decided to use the application during the Paris tournament. “I see that these technologies are developing well and we can therefore call on innovations that can help us. But I have the feeling that there is more and more hate being unleashed“, regrets the Pole.

“In the past, after tournaments, I used to look on social media how people viewed my matches. But I don’t anymore because since last year they feel that I have to win everything. They are furious when I don’t win.”

Iga Swiatek, number one in the world

at a press conference

Interviewed by franceinfo: sport, Daria Abramowicz, psychologist and mental coach of Iga Swiatek, praises these new technologies while inviting the test to be globalized in the future. “Help players create a safe space for their mental health“, explains the one who has been following the world number one since 2019.

The feedback from players who already used Bodyguard before the tournament is positive, according to Mathieu Boutard. “We have players outside who tell us: ‘on my accounts we talk about tennis and nothing else’, it’s nice.“For a long-term experience review, however, we will have to wait.

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