Pendulum raises $5.9M to help organizations track harmful narratives – TechCrunch

Pendulum helps companies, governments and other organizations track malicious narratives on social media platforms and elsewhere on the web. The company announced today that it has raised $5.9 million in an initial round led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Cercano Management and others. The service is incubated within Madrona Venture Labs.

“Pendulum’s platform applies artificial intelligence and natural language processing techniques to detect threats and opportunities present in novels in their early days of formation and track them as they spread across the Internet,” explains Madrona Director Hope Cochran. “By slicing and categorizing narratives into text, video, and audio content on social media platforms, businesses are better prepared and able to engage with the communities of their choice. With the support of YouTube, BitChute, Rumble and Podcasts now available, the platform will grow to include all social platforms of interest within the coming months.”

The team behind Pendulum appears to be uniquely suited to building a product like this. For example, co-founder Sam Clark previously worked as a data mining engineer at Decide.com and then at eBay after it acquired that company. He also co-created the Transparency Tube, a project that categorizes and analyzes political YouTube channels. The Transparency Tube shares a great deal of DNA with a pendulum, and then Clark teamed up with Madrona to build a commercial product around this general idea of ​​tracking misinformation and misinformation online. This is also where he teamed up with his co-founder Mark Listis, who brought a lot of government expertise to the team. Listis was previously Director of Policy for the US Election Assistance Committee and Chief of Staff for the National Security Innovation Network, where he helped manage the US Department of Defense’s involvement in the projects.

Pendulum founders Sam Clark (left) and Mark Listis (r). Image credits: Pendulum

While Listes expected to have a very quiet time on the Electoral Assistance Committee, he clearly picked the wrong time for it when he joined in 2016. “By November and December of 2016, the election space looked a lot different,” Lee told me. We were dealing with foreign interference, intelligence notes, everything under the sun. In short, for the next two and a half years, my colleagues and I were in the middle of leading efforts to combat foreign interference outside our electoral system. We tested it personally and institutionally, and then helped us struggle out of our public system. Harmful narratives and the effect those narratives have, whether they are misleading, misleading or incompatible narratives, can have on society as a whole.”

However, while government agencies can use the pendulum to track narratives online, it is a commercial service first. “We are commercial first,” Listis said. “There’s of course an easy and intuitive government game here, but we’re really focused exclusively on the commercial sector first and we’re building some really strong partnerships there.”

Image credits: Pendulum

Listes emphasized that for a platform like a pendulum to work, it must cover as many platforms as possible. It’s not enough just to follow Twitter, which doesn’t provide a representative sample of the population anyway, or YouTube. For this reason, the pendulum also tracks BitChute and Rumble, for example.

But Lists also points out that the pendulum is not really the class’s prerogative. “We actually have a really powerful narrative tracing engine that’s really powerful that doesn’t depend on whether something is right or wrong or not,” he explained. “We are moving away from eliminating the truth – and that opens us up to a much wider range of use cases.” This means that the company can work with companies, for example, that may want to track accounts about the company’s executives and its assets, for communications but also for security reasons.

Since he doesn’t want to decide if something is true or not, the pendulum opens itself up for use by nefarious actors as well. Listes argues that the company does not track any personally identifiable information, and that the team is well aware of this possibility. “We build values ​​to make sure that we are in no way creating an unfair playing field or enabling malicious actors and the like through the use of our tool,” he said.

Leave a Comment