Ceartas: Meet the Irish tech founder tackling social media trolls

Plagiarism and trolling are two major issues currently facing the social media world. Stealing of images, fake accounts, abuse, threats and catfishing – the cyber world can prove a dark place at the best of times.

With recent figures from Insider Intelligence revealing that over 500 million people in Europe will have used and continue to use social networks monthly by the end of 2022, the internet has opened a can of worms that, unfortunately, the tech industry is struggling to close.

Worryingly, research from The International Psychology Clinic in the States has revealed that around four in ten Americans have suffered trolling at some point. In addition, a YouGov poll reveals that 28% of Americans admitted carrying out malicious online activity directed at somebody they didn’t know.

Although seemingly a more significant issue in America, trolling and stealing people’s images to form fake online accounts is more prevalent across Europe than one would think. Member states such as the UK and Ireland are currently in the process of reviewing existing legislation to try and curb what has become a contentious issue for the tech world.

One hugely successful founder who has undertaken the task of helping remove copyright images is Dan Purcell, founder and CEO of AI-powered platform Ceartas. 

We spoke to Dan about how his company came to fruition, the technology involved and a recent upsurge in helping victims of plagiarism and trolling.

1. Tell us a bit about Ceartas; what exactly do you do?

Ceartas is an AI-powered copyright and brand protection company. We remove instances of piracy and leaked content at scale for all rights holders – from content creators to enterprises. We also remove explicit non-consensual imagery, such as revenge porn, on behalf of victims for free. 

2. Dan, can you tell us where did the concept come from?

While working at Google (ironically, in their search division), both my personal and private content was leaked and distributed by an individual without my consent. This was devastating to me. I was absolutely mortified, ashamed and depressed. I went down a massive rabbit hole, and when I got to the end, I realized there’s no real way of knowing which elements of your private and intimate life are online. I began to question, if they are, how would you find them, when you find them and precisely how do you remove them? We eliminate this worry automatically at scale. 

3. Talk to us about the technology involved; what powers Ceartas?

We use cutting-edge technology that hasn’t been seen before. Not only can we find content online without needing access to the source, but we can do so in a hyper-intelligent way and risk-free from a legal standpoint. In real-time, we use context-aware AI to determine if the content we’re searching for is a promoter or a detector. If it’s detracting from your brand, we’ll have it removed. 

4. Have you noticed an increase in usage post-COVID?

We care for hundreds of social media channel users, including OnlyFans creators. The platform boomed during the pandemic as people used it as a source of income. Those creators were given the opportunity to turn themselves into a brand. It was only when things settled down that they realized it’s an empowering, safe, honest and legitimate way of making money – so they stuck with it. However, with this boom of creators came a bigger one of thieves and pirates who steal and distribute the content at a significant scale. Our services allow these creators to maintain ownership of their brand and ensure the content stays within their own distribution channels.

5. What are the platform’s most significant challenges in navigating negative comments online?

Luckily we haven’t really had anything of the sort, but you can’t please everyone. We’re very fortunate that our clients and partners sing our praises on social channels. 

6. What makes Ceartas different from every web crawling technology out there?

We have the highest removal rate in the world. Our technology is vastly superior, but what sets us apart is our ease of use, transparency, and customer service. We are creators first and show great care for our clients. Empathy comes first, always. 

7. With so many tech companies experiencing turbulence, are you concerned about a potential tech company slowdown?

No, not at all. Many of these larger companies (Twitter etc.) have overhired for the wrong reasons over the last 2-3 years. The “grow at all costs” days are over and probably for the best. There’s an excellent opportunity for genuinely innovative tech companies to come and shine through. 

7. Finally, what are your ambitions for the company for 2023?

We continue to grow month over month, and we’ve come so far in a year…we aim to truly transform how creators approach content creation and enterprises protect their intellectual property. We want to turn a reactionary market into a proactive one. This time next year, our team will probably have grown two or three times in size. With that, we’ll continue to innovate, offer amazing new features and technology to our clients, and continue our mission of becoming the market leader in our field.

Rebecca Lee is a journalist and broadcaster of over 23 years. She also works in tech communications with ClearStory International. To date, she has written for and continues to contribute to The Business Post, The Irish Times, The Irish Daily Mail, The Sunday World, and, most importantly, European tech publication 4i Magazine. Rebecca also worked as a radio presenter for 13 years with leading Irish stations Q102 and FM104. Alongside balancing her PR and journalism work, Rebecca moderates events, WebSummit 2022 and Dublin Tech Summit being the most recent.