Leeds tech firm is tackling the dark side of social media

Adam Hildreth.
Adam Hildreth.

Adam Hildreth, chief executive of Crisp, shares with Digital City readers how this innovative Leeds-headquartered technology company is putting the city on the map for artificial intelligence.

Leeds may seem like an unlikely hub for anti-terrorist tech, but that’s exactly what it now is.

Over the last two years, Crisp and our crack team of developers have been creating Capture – advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology that is now being rolled out by global social networks to detect new terrorist propaganda online.

Our tech is finding hundreds of items of newly created content online every day – content that includes uploads of extremist preaching, violent and gory content promoting extremist causes, videos inciting acts of terrorism, and details on how to create explosives for terrorist acts.

The AI works by graphing the social web to identify the most likely locations for the discussion and sharing of illegal content, such as dark web forums, discussion boards and messaging sites.

The artificial intelligence follows those discussions to identify the content, assess the risk and report it to the social platforms – all within minutes of being discovered. It is then up to the platform to decide what happens next.

Finding this content quickly is incredibly important, especially when you consider that the United Nations is pushing the tech giants to remove it in under two hours.

We’ve been able to engineer Capture because, over the last 12 years, Crisp has been a fearless innovator in social media risk detection and we’ve worked hard to stay ahead of the game when dealing with the darker side of social media.

Initially, our focus was on protecting kids’ websites and online communities from sexual predators, groomers and cyberbullies.

We still do this today for some of the world’s biggest children’s platforms and chat apps, and we’ve successfully prevented over 11 million attempts by predators on these kids’ platforms to date.

Once big name brands started using social media for their marketing, some of the largest brands in the broadcasting, fast-moving consumer goods and fashion industries then came to us to provide them with the same level of online safety for their brands.

All of this has led to where we are today – a technology company headquartered in Leeds, working with global social networks to detect some of the most dangerous content online.

Over the last decade, Leeds has become one of the top cities outside of London for digital innovation.

Digital and tech jobs now make up 10 per cent of all jobs in Leeds and, as the city goes from strength to strength, Crisp will be investing millions in our technology to attract the very best minds and ensure we make Leeds the new hub for social media-risk-focused AI.

The work we’re doing here already has global implications, and Crisp will continue tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the internet today. 

It’s hugely rewarding to know that by always driving forward AI, we’re able to achieve something that’s truly worthwhile for Leeds and the rest of the world.

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