Tennis players at this year’s French Open will have access to an artificial intelligence-driven tool to help filter out abuse directed at them on social media – the first time a Grand Slam is offering all players technology to fight online harassment.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) is offering players at Roland Garros free access to Bodyguard.ai, an AI-based content moderation tool that monitors their accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Discord in real time.
Athletes increasingly find themselves subjected to insults and discriminatory comments on social media.
Tennis players are no different: their performance on the court can make them the target of death or rape threats.
Since 2018, the FFT has put in place a support unit for French players, offering psychological aid for those who are the targets of abuse as well as a tool that monitors comments.
The organisers decided to extend the support to all players in the 2023 tournament, which started on Monday and runs through 11 June.
The federation will use Bodyguard to monitor the accounts of all players in the main draw who opt in to the protection, as well as the official FFT and Roland-Garros accounts.
The tool automatically analyses posts for hateful content and filters out potential abuse, so that players won’t see it on their feeds.
Bodyguard will provide organisers with daily reports on activity directed at players’ accounts, and can provide details of abusive messages and their authors to be used in legal action.
Prioritising mental health
Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said in April that the tool was intended to help players’ mental wellbeing: “It clears the mind and will help everyone have a little more freedom on the court.”
Mental health issues led top Japanese player Naomi Osaka to unexpectedly withdraw from the French Open in 2021.
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“The mental health of the players is a priority for the Roland-Garros tournament,”
“We will not accept any form of violence at our tournament. We are very proud to be the first Grand Slam tournament to offer players a solution that efficiently protects them against cyberbullying.”Said FFT director Caroline Flaissier.