Reddit acqui-hires team from ML content moderation startup Oterlu

Reddit announced today that it’s bringing on the team from Oterlu, a startup from Gothenburg, Sweden that develops machine learning-powered content moderation tools. The Oterlu team will join Reddit’s Safety team and develop native machine learning moderation models that can quickly and accurately detect harmful content across a range of languages, Reddit says. The Oterlu team will also build new safety tools for Reddit moderators.

The company says the announcement is part of its ongoing efforts to invest in and grow its internal Safety team that oversees its content policy. Reddit also notes that the agreement will help accelerate the scale of Reddit’s automated safety capabilities.

“The Oterlu team brings expertise in building algorithms that use natural language processing technology, artificial intelligence models, and machine learning to detect nuances in unwanted behavior such as bullying, harassment, and grooming,” Reddit said in a blog post. “We’re excited to welcome the Oterlu team on board to help accelerate the scale, sophistication and internationalization of Reddit’s automated safety capabilities internally and for moderators.”

Oterlu was co-founded in 2019 by former Google Trust and Safety lead Alexander Gee, along with Ludvig Gee and Sebastian Nabrink. The company’s four-person team, including the co-founders, will be joining Reddit, a spokesperson from the social network confirmed to TechCrunch.

Today’s announcement comes as Reddit has been testing new moderator tools over the past few months. The company began piloting a new safety feature over the summer called the “Hateful Content Filter.” The filter identifies various forms of harassment and hateful content, and includes a toggle that enables moderators to set a threshold within their community. Reddit also recently began testing another moderator tool called “Ban Evasion Protection” that automatically filters posts and comments from suspected ban evaders.

By adding the Oterlu team to its Safety team, Reddit will be able to provide moderators on its platform with even more advanced safety tools.

The announcement also follows Reddit’s recent acquisition spree. Last month, the company acquired audience contextualization company Spiketrap for an undisclosed amount. Reddit said the company’s AI-powered contextual analysis and tools will help it to improve in areas like ad quality scoring and will boost prediction models for powering auto-bidding. In June, Reddit acquired MeaningCloud, a natural language processing company, for an undisclosed amount. Reddit says the company’s technology will strengthen its machine learning proficiencies and understanding of unstructured data to provide relevant information for Reddit users.

In July, Reddit acquired Spell, a platform for running machine learning experiments, for an undisclosed amount. Reddit could use the ML technology to improve its capabilities across a range of areas, such as the recommendations for its newer Discover tab, plus its safety work and targeted ads business.

Between today’s announcement and the company’s recent acquisitions, Reddit seems to be quite focused on investing in AI and ML.