Linguistics at Senso
Linguistics might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to safeguarding, but it holds incredible potential for protecting users online.
As part of our commitment to always improving our technology, we’re putting considerable investment into our linguistic capabilities here at Senso. This means we’re able to go beyond the typical safeguarding approaches and work towards developing a much more effective and accurate online safety tool.
But what is linguistics? And how exactly does it fit into safeguarding? In this article we explain how and why we’re harnessing the power of language to improve our safeguarding offering.
What is Linguistics?
Linguistics is the scientific study of language and how it works. It helps us understand all of the different aspects of language, including how words are formed, how they’re put together to create sentences, and how meaning is made. Almost everything we do in life relies on language: having a conversation, reading an email, writing a note, using our phones… language is everywhere, and the way we use it can have an incredible impact.
Linguists are trained to analyse how language is used in different contexts, as well as how different languages work. They do this by uncovering the patterns and rules within the grammar, sounds, and vocabulary of a language, and by analysing large amounts of language data. Essentially, linguistics helps us gain insights into how we use language, why language changes over time, and how language influences our thoughts and behaviours. In the simplest terms, linguistics is a kind of detective work into the mysteries and mechanisms of human language.
Emma is our in-house linguist and Head of Safeguarding here at Senso, which makes her the go-to person for all things digital safety and linguistics. As well as helping our customers meet the highest level of safeguarding standards and stay compliant with statutory guidance, Emma also brings her expertise in linguistics and lexicography to help develop new methodologies for processing safeguarding data.
Emma’s day-to-day work involves reviewing and testing our existing processes and resources, consulting with external safeguarding and IT experts to develop new ways forward, and running linguistic analysis on real-time and historical Senso violations to reliably reduce false positive rates. Within two months of Emma joining Senso, our false positive rate dropped by 24% on Microsoft Teams! Since then, Emma has continued to refine our keyword libraries and bring false positive rates down even more. We’re excited to release updated progress figures in the coming months.