Fend Off Trolls, Bots and Jerks With ‘Empathy’ Test

A human rights group is introducing a new take on CAPTCHAs, those little boxes that make you type in a word to prove you are human before you can comment or register for a site. Their version doesn’t just present a scrambled word to be deciphered, but instead forces a person to choose the right word to unscramble based on the proper emotional response to a human rights violation.

Civil Rights Defenders, the Swedish-based group that developed the tool, hopes the Civil Rights Captcha will help sites block spiders and bots, while letting humans in — and hopefully educating the humans at the same time.

One hopes that being required to choose “Terrible” rather than “Fascinated” when asked how you feel about gay people being beaten will keep out the trolls — but that’s probably asking too much.

But perhaps forcing a troll to repeatedly choose an empathetic response will, over time, soothe the ravages of comment sections around the net. Okay, that might also be asking too much, but at the very least spreading information about human rights abuses certainly can’t hurt, even if the jerks of the internet (see, for example, YouTube comments) remain beyond help.

The group is debuting the tool just ahead of a planned gay and transgender march in Serbia on Saturday, which looks to have been cancelled by police due to threats by right-wing groups.

There’s a PHP library and an API, and the group is looking to expand the computer languages supported. As for what human languages are supported, so far it looks like only English and Swedish are available.