Online toxicity is a growing problem affecting millions of kids worldwide. Toxicity includes hate speech, predatory behavior, bullying, shaming, and the promotion of self-harm.
L1ght, which uses artificial intelligence technology to analyze and predict toxic content online, announced today that it has secured $15 million in seed funding. The round was led jointly by Tribeca Venture Partners and Mangrove Capital Partners, as well as Western Technology Investment.
L1ght, a B2B tool that plugs directly into social platforms, will use the funding for product R&D and distribution to popular online platforms. Because context, slang, and nuance are critical, L1ght will focus on its algorithms’ ability to detect in near real-time content that is dangerous to children, whether sent through text, video, audio, or images.
Consider the fact that one in three teens have received threats online. L1ght protects internet users against cyberbullying and other online risks.
“This new funding will help L1ght ensure online spaces are safe for kids,” co-founder and CEO Zohar Levkovitz said. “On social media, chat apps, websites, and multiplayer games, it’s obvious that not enough is being done to protect young people from harmful content. My co-founder Ron Porat and I started L1ght because we wanted to change that.”
Predators use legitimate apps and platforms to perpetrate abuse. With this tool, users can predict and prevent these behaviors online. Shaming can occur online on any platform — often with tragic results. L1ght provides critical early warnings to help avoid incidents of shaming.
L1ght’s investors see applications for technology across social networks, hosting providers, chatrooms, and online content platforms. Spaces free of hate speech, bullying, and predatory behavior are more attractive to many users, particularly minors and their parents. L1ght’s technology has identified toxic content on platforms such as WhatsApp, GIPHY, and CloudFlare.
“Tribeca Venture Partners is thrilled to join the L1ght team on its incredibly important mission – protecting children online,” said Chip Meakem, Managing Partner of Tribeca Venture Partners. “After working with Zohar and his team for quite some time we are confident L1ght is uniquely positioned to help solve this massive societal problem. Now, the real work begins, which is to distribute L1ght’s proprietary algorithms to major online platforms and providers across the globe.”
Roy Saar, Partner at Mangrove, said that the company had conducted research that found a growing amount of online toxicity. “This toxicity presents too great a cost for us as a society. We looked into this space for solutions for quite some time, and were impressed by L1ght’s vision, execution, and founding members.”
L1ght’s solution fills a void that the tech giants have been unable to address. Microsoft and Google have begun fielding their own tools to help combat the problem. Microsoft’s Project Artemis, for example, attempts to address predators’ grooming of children for sexual exploitation, and Google’s PerspectiveAPI uses machine learning to identify online harassment.
Before taking the helm at L1ght, Levkovitz was California’s Entrepreneur of the Year and founder of Amobee, which was sold to SingTel for $321M. Levkovitz also stars on the Israeli edition of Shark Tank. CTO Ron Porat is a cybersecurity entrepreneur who has sold several companies to large organizations.
Cyberbullying has grown from merely annoying to a concrete hazard for individuals. All digital devices and other digital and electronic means have been deployed for this criminal pursuit. L1ght wants to lead the way to safety for all — but especially for children who are the most vulnerable.
The L1ght learning algorithms analyze and recognize all forms of hate speech, whether through text, video, or other online sounds. L1ght can be deployed anywhere people communicate with each other.
Thanks to the L1ght company — individuals, as well as schools and other enterprise will know — “There IS a light of safety coming your way.”
Editor In Chief at ReadWrite
Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.