Squadbox lets you set up filters on your email so that suspicious messages get forwarded to your most trusted contacts for moderation.


Squadbox

Are you currently or have you been a victim of email harassment? A new tool from researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory can help you fight back.

Dubbed Squadbox, the tool lets you set up filters on your email so that suspicious messages get forwarded to your most trusted contacts—aka your squad—for moderation. Your friends can then go through the messages and determine which ones to get rid of, and which to forward back to your inbox.

The team behind Squadbox interviewed YouTube personalities, activists, and other individuals who commonly receive harassing emails, and found many already rely on friends and family to shield them from abusive messages. Squadbox makes the task a lot easier for those moderators.

How does your squad know if an email has already been reviewed? “Squadbox allows users to customize how incoming email is handled, divvying up the work to make sure there’s no duplication of effort,” said MIT Professor David Karger, who wrote a paper on the new tool with PhD student Amy Zhang and former MIT student and software engineer Kaitlin Mahar.

You can use this tool with an existing email address, or set up a new @squadbox account. The tool also lets you create a “blacklist” of harassers whose emails will be automatically denied without manual moderation.

In the future, the team behind Squadbox hopes to extend its capabilities to work on social media platforms.

For now, the team is seeking alpha testers to try out the system. If you’ve been the target of email harassment and are interested in trying Squadbox, email the team at: squadbox@mit.edu.

“Harassment is an inherently disempowering experience, and giving survivors options allows them to move back into control,” Emily May, co-founder and executive director of the global anti-harassment initiative Hollaback! said in a statement. “Squadbox is designed to not just remind people that they have community around them, but to activate that community on their behalf.”



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