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Microsoft Says New Tool Detects Pedophiles Grooming Kids Online

When a child sexual predator identifies a potential victim online, they don’t always try to start a sexual relationship with them immediately. Instead, the predator might engage in a process called “grooming” — befriending and establishing trust with the potential victim so they can exploit that trust later.

Now, Microsoft has created a tool that analyzes text-based chats for signs of grooming — and they’re giving it away in the hopes it can help fight the massive problem of child sexual exploitation online.

Microsoft developed the tool, which is code-named Project Artemis, as part of a multi-organization effort that launched in November 2018. According to a new blog post, it builds on patented technology Microsoft started using to prevent grooming on its Xbox platform several years ago.

The tool analyzes text-based conversations and assigns them a rating indicating the likelihood that grooming is taking place. A company can decide for itself what ratings warrant a flag — a seven or above out of 10, for example.

Flagged conversations go to a human moderator for review, and that person can then decide if the company should contact the authorities.