Web tool “Reword” could help stop bullying before it starts

It’s never been easier to find a way to get under someone’s skin, and with a screen and a keyboard making us virtually anonymous, bullying can start with something as simple as an off-hand remark.

Even if it wasn’t quite meant as something rude and horrible, on the other side of the computer and over at a different screen, a person reading the statement might see it as a sleight on their behalf.

Unfortunately, we don’t always have an editor in our heads telling us what we should and shouldn’t say, and while our conscience could well deal with that, often we write or speak before thinking about the ramifications and potential consequences, which can be jarring or troubling to other people.

Worse, if someone is never told when they’re being rude and bullying someone, this can lead to this behaviour being seen as normal, which isn’t a good thing for growing minds.

Fortunately, an extension to a web browser could just offer a bit of assistance, providing that extra thought that an editor or someone glancing over a shoulder might otherwise provide.


It’s a little addition to Google’s Chrome browser called “Reword” that looks for intimidating phrases or cruel wordings when posts are being made to social networks, and then highlights them, advising the user with a redline through the aggressive phrasing and if perhaps they want to rethink or reword their message in order to have it not be so rude or divisive.


“Sadly, online bullying is endemic. The pressures on children in social media are intense,” said Chris Tanti, CEO of Headspace, the company that has built Reword.

“Reword is one way we can help empower them in real time. We’re encouraged that this is a tangible online tool that will genuinely help change behaviour and reduce incidents of bullying.”


The extension will still let you post phrasing that has been picked up by Reword as potentially disturbing, but research for Headspace has shown that almost 80 percent of youth aged 12 to 25 are willing to reword a phrase when they see the extension’s red line through their words.

As for availability, Reword can be found now as an extension for Google Chrome, with plans to roll it out to Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox later on.