Over the years, the world has witnessed a tremendous amount of advancements — both in terms of technology and communication. However, like everything else, even the technology space has its own consequences. And, of all these consequences, social harassment is the one that is skyrocketing. The internet is becoming a cesspool of hatred and mockery as people are harshly judging and criticising each other.
Every day numerous social harassment cases are being filed, but only a few are getting solved. There are also stories that are never being told because for many, it is not so easy to open up or speak up due to the feelings of shame and fear of retribution.
With time and the increasing number of online communication platforms, this dark side of the Internet is turning so pervasive that is making a horrible impact on the lives of many; it has completely taken bullying into a whole different form as it can happen anywhere and anytime.
In order to stop and even prevent harassers, few brilliant minds have come up with some of the great ideas that are now becoming extremely popular among people, and Chatbot is one of those ideas.
While the majority of chatbots nowadays are being created to help businesses grow, there are companies that are building chatbots to help communities deal with social issues and improve society.
As harassment cases continue to skyrocket, chatbots have started to play a vital role empowering and helping survivors of harassment. Here are some of the best-of-breed Chatbots that are created using AI and machine learning, making it easier for victims to tackle harassment:
Spot: Created in 2017 by Dr Julia Shaw, a German-Canadian psychologist and popular science writer, alongside two engineers Dylan Marriott and Daniel Nicolae, Spot is an AI-driven online interview bot that allows people to create a record of inappropriate workplace behaviour while it is fresh in their minds.
Using the so-called cognitive interview technique, Spot asks few questions to the victims of harassment about their experiences. For example, the bot asks questions about when and where the victim was harassed, who is the culprit, and whether there are any people who witnessed the incident. While talking to Spot and answering the questions, the user can either identify themselves or stay anonymous. They can also take out information they don’t want to share.
Once the interview is done, Spot collects all the answers provided by the victim and forms a PDF with a formal-looking cover sheet, which can be emailed to the concerned department or anyone they want.
According to Dr. Shaw, it is imperative to know what-not-to-ask because a single wrong question can make the employee overthink and might also lead to a misinterpretation of the incident. And that is the prime reason why the cognitive interview is the basis of Spot. It is programmed to questions that are important — it can’t judge and have an unconscious bias. Also, it follows the same questionnaire procedure that police use to help victims of crime.
Victims often don’t feel comfortable speaking to a person about the harassment because the incident was traumatic. But, talking to a bot make things easier and this where Spot wins the game.
Haptik: In 2017, India had an estimated 250 Mn social network users and it was prophesied that the count is going to increase by over 336.7 Mn in the next three years. With this insanely huge number of social media users, it is getting tough to tackle cyber harassment.
Haptik and Akancha Against Harassment (AAH) saw the need for a solution and worked together to create a conversational chatbot that aims to serve users seeking help through a more personalised, approachable chat-based interface to fight cyber harassment.
Talking about how the bot works, the Haptik chatbot provides information about what constitutes cyber harassment and what steps to be taken when people feel they are being harassed. The bot is trained in such a way that it answers questions about cyber safety, ways to approach the police, basic rights, Indian laws, etc. If that’s isn’t enough, the user can find out the services offered by AAH and can also schedule an appointment to talk to a counselor.
Haptik started out as a customer support company, but eventually, it grew as a company that creates chatbot. Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a reality and now, even machines can learn (sometimes better than better than humans). And reaping the benefits of AI and machine learning, Haptik with its chatbot is at the forefront of innovation and implementation.
Shakti: In the recent days, the #MeToo movement has gained tremendous momentum in India, and to help Indian women find a voice to deal with sexual harassment at their workplace, the Silicon Valley-based company Gupshup has come up with a chatbot named Shakti.
Shakti is basically a Facebook-based chatbot that guides women on necessary measures that should be taken when they face an unfortunate event of harassment. Also, the chatbot provides details of concerned authorities women can reach out to.
How to use Shakti? It is not a complicated chatbot that needs to accessed download or installed. It is one of the simplest chatbots that is available 24×7 and can be accessed by just logging into your Facebook account. To talk to Shakti, all you need to do is send a message to the “MeToo India” page.
Me2Bot: While men can also be victims of sexual harassment, the rate of women victims are mostly high and surprisingly most of the cases go unreported. The industry was in sheer need of a solution.
Created by Beerud Sheth, the CEO and co-founder of Gupshup, Me2Bot is another chatbot by Gupshup that is designed to help victims of sexual harassment. The Me2Bot is created to be an improvement to the existing HR departments. It gives the victim a channel to reach out, which is completely non-judgmental and unbiased.
So, to use the Me2Bot, companies can either use the widget, the website or an app. Gupshup has also created a Facebook page under the products name and has set up Messenger for companies looking for a test run.