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How kumu provides safer online space for subscribers

by Izel Abanilla

With the proliferation of illicit contents online, social media platforms have devised their own ways of censorship to create a safer virtual space for the netizens. But are they really effective? 

Among the apps that designed strict policies against prohibited content is live streaming application kumu, an all-Filipino tech venture founded by Filipino-Americans from Silicon Valley.

Founded in 2018, kumu has over 10 million subscribers from 55 countries. kumu is short for Tagalog word, “Kumusta” or “how are you?”

James Rumohr, kumu co-founder and chief community officer, said their core values and business model do not align with using titillating photos and videos to get more subscribers.

“Kumu is a social media platform, founded by Filipinos. We provide a safe and fun platform for global Filipino streamers,” Rumohr told republicasia. “So Filipinos all around the world and those who love Filipino culture are able to come to our platform and have a good time and enjoy themselves with great content that’s very entertaining for our users.”

Rumohr said kumu has designed an artificial intelligence that could detect nudity and other violent content.

Aside from the AI technology, kumu also has content moderators to complement the AI detection. 

Human reviewers, whom he calls “tanod” have shifting schedules. The maximum number of hours they watch content is only five hours.

“Sa kumu we have 24/7 coverage, so shifting ‘yan. Every hour every day, meron talaga diyang lumilibot, we call it kumu Police, to police nga kung ano ‘yung nangyayari,” kumu Moderation Senior Manager Ronel Taruc, told republicasia. 

Taruc, who heads the pool of content moderators, added that many kumu creators also “volunteers” to help them police the live streaming app from illicit content.

Furthermore, once their online police spots contents that employ certain degrees of violations like nudity, penalties are in place. 

“We just don’t ban the account, pwedeng-pwedeng magagawa lang ng new account, even the device itself, kaya natin i-ban para di na siya makagawa ng Kumu account or even the IP address, that extreme,” he said. 

Rumohr said they make sure to pursue proactive measures to deter compromising activities. 

To prove kumu’s relentless commitment to their mission, they have indeed sampled their teeth to violators. “I think there are certain content creators whether they be popular or an organic one, we treat them all with respect but at the same time if they violate our guidelines we have to flag it. Have there been cases? Yes.” 

republucasia has released for its maiden issue an expose about social media and live streaming apps supposedly being used to promote pornography and prostitution. 

Rumohr said just like any other social media, there are illicit images that may pass their eagle eyes. But unlike other social media, once these are reported, they will not tolerate such actions and immediately take them down. 

“Some social media say their policy is that they don’t tolerate sexual content, but when you report it, they would just look at the other way. In our app, once the site is found to have illicit content, we immediately take them down,” he added.

Among the social media apps that received major backlash over supposed negligence to flagrant online flesh trade is Twitter. This resulted in the suspension of marketing campaign by major advertisers on parts of the platform because their ads apparently appeared alongside tweets soliciting child pornography. 

kumu executives met republicasia chief executive officer Bran Reluao during a meeting at the newsroom in Intramuros, Manila last Monday.

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