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Home Secretary Sajid Javid has hailed a new anti-grooming tool as an important weapon in the fight against online child sexual exploitation.
Engineers from some of the world’s biggest tech firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Twitter, worked for 2 days at a hackathon in the United States co-hosted by the Home Secretary and Microsoft, which tasked industry experts to come up with tools to identify online child grooming.
A prototype tool has been developed that can be used to automatically flag potential conversations taking place between child groomers and children.
Once complete, it will be rolled out for free to other tech companies that want to deploy it.
Hackathon participants analysed tens of thousands of conversations to understand patterns used by predators. This enabled engineers to develop technology to automatically and accurately detect these patterns.
Potential conversations between a groomer and their victim will be flagged so a moderator can investigate further.
Further work will take place on the prototype. Once completed it will be licensed free of charge to smaller and medium-sized technology companies worldwide.
During his trip to the United States the Home Secretary noted that, while some progress had been made, companies still had to go further and work faster to tackle online child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Last week the government announced a package of measures to tackle online CSE. This included:
If something's not right, don't ignore it - speak to someone. The Warwickshire CSE webite has full information about support available if you, or someone you know, may be at risk. In an emergency always dial 999.
More information about online grooming and sexual exploitation can also be found on our advice page.