Stories of online harassment have made news headlines for years during the increased age of social media.
According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, last year it found that 41 percent of U.S. adults have personally experienced some form of online harassment in at least one of six ways. This is why Black-owned tech company, Yappa was formed to intervene and create a more humane way for users to communicate online.
Forbes reports that this week, the tech startup has raised a $3.5 million Series A funding round to double down on its exemplary efforts to restore positive virtual interactions online.
Funding from the round — which was led by Future Media Limited — will reportedly go toward expanding the company’s existing features and launching new ones to further enhance its capabilities.
Yappa — which was founded by Jennifer Dyer and Kiaran Sim back in 2015 — is a development-stage company that offers audio and video commenting services for Internet websites, its website states.
As a tool that’s used to reform online communication, Yappa — described as a mesh of Clubhouse and Twitter concepts — helps prevent users on both social media apps and websites from hiding behind anonymous pages by requiring them to articulate their thoughts using their own voices.
With more than 400 clients — including The Hill, Vox and PerezHilton.com — Yappa’s tools incorporate its patented technology via a browser extension widget that allows users to submit comments through either audio or video format.
“When you’re using your voice, you’re a lot more careful with what you say than when you are lobbing grenades from behind the keyboard,” Sim tells Forbes.
Dyer adds, “There’s just a lot of toxicity [when] you don’t have to put yourself on that front line, you don’t have to own your voice, you don’t have to own your responsibility, you can be anonymous. We wanted to provide a tool where people were going to be able to have civil conversations.”
The purpose behind many social media platforms is to cultivate a sense of community online, but Yappa is more interested in fostering better behavior to help companies restore ethics online and protect their audiences.
“We are a social media platform that encourages publishers to get back some of their audience that the social media giants have robbed them from,” Sim told Forbes. “We were really trying to put the power back in the publishers’ hands to foster good behavior and give them the social tools that they need to keep their audience on their side.”
As a one-of-a-kind startup, Yappa is able to break new ground online without any direct competition. With a mission to bring back the old school concept of using our words through talking and not texting, the company strives to make online communication simple and safe again.
For more information about Yappa, visit its website.