The New York Times is enabling comments on more of its online articles because of an artificial intelligence tool developed by Google.
The software, named Perspective, helps identify “toxic” language, allowing the newspaper’s human moderators to focus on non-offensive posts more quickly.
Its algorithms have been trained by feeding them millions of posts previously vetted by the team.
By contrast, several other news sites have shut their comments sections.
Popular Science, Motherboard, Reuters, National Public Radio, Bloomberg and The Daily Beast are among those to have stopped allowing the public to post their thoughts on their sites, in part because of the cost and effort required to vet them for obscene and potentially libellous content.
The BBC restricts comments to a select number of its stories for the same reasons, but as a result many of them end up being complaints about the selection.
‘You are ignorant’
Until this week, the New York Times typically placed comment sections on about 10% of its stories.
But it is now targeting a 25% figure and hopes to raise that to 80% by the year’s end.
The software works by producing a score out of 100 for how likely it thinks it would be for a human to reject the comment.
The human moderators can then choose to check those comments with a low score first rather than going through them in the order they were received, helping speed up how long it takes to get views online.
According to Jigsaw – the Google division responsible for the software – use of phrases such as “anyone who… is a moron”, “you are ignorant” and the inclusion of swear words are likely to produce a high mark.