Online abuse, disinformation, fraud, and other malicious content are on the rise, and tracking is becoming more complex. Today, a startup called ActiveFence, which has been quietly building a technology platform to detect threats during their formation and planning, and make it easier for trust and security teams to fight them on platforms, comes out of the shadows to make significant announcements due to funding an increase in large organizations using its services.
The startup, with joint headquarters in New York and Tel Aviv, has raised $ 100 million that it will use to further develop its tools and expand its customer base. ActiveFence says its customers to date include social media, audio and video streaming, file sharing, gaming, marketplaces, and other technologies companies – it hasn’t released any specific names, but says its tools will work together ” Cover billions of users. Governments and brands are two other categories the company is targeting as it continues to expand. It’s been around since 2018 and is growing around 100% annually.
The $ 100 million announced today spans two rounds: the most recent Series B led by CRV and Highland Europe, and a Series A she never announced led by Grove Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners. Vintage Investment Partners, Resolute Ventures, and other undisclosed funders also attended. There’s no rating, but I understand it’s over $ 500 million.
“We are very honored to have been an ActiveFence partner from the start and to be part of this important journey to make the Internet a safer place and to see their unprecedented success with the world’s leading Internet platforms,” said Lotan Levkowitz, General Partner at Grove Ventures, in a statement.
The increasing presence of social media and online chat on other platforms has put a strong spotlight on how these forums are used by malicious actors to spread malicious content. The special approach of ActiveFence consists of a series of algorithms that open up innovations in AI (Natural Language Processing) and map relationships between conversations. It crawls all the obvious and less obvious and harder-to-reach parts of the internet to capture chatters, which is usually where a lot of the malicious content and campaigns originate – around 3 million sources total – before they become higher-level topics. It is based on both the concept of big data analytics and the understanding that the long tail of online content has value if it can be accessed effectively.
“We take a fundamentally different approach to trust, security and content moderation,” said Noam Schwartz, co-founder and CEO, in an interview. “We proactively search the darkest corners of the web looking for malicious actors to understand the sources of malicious content. Our customers then know what is coming. You don’t have to wait for the damage or for internal research teams to identify the next fraud or disinformation campaign. We work with some of the most important companies in the world, but even small, super-niche platforms are risky. “
The insights that ActiveFence gathers are then packaged into an API that its customers can then feed into any other systems they use to track or attenuate traffic on their own platforms.
ActiveFence isn’t the only business development technology helping platform operators, governments, and brands better understand what’s going on in the wider online world. Factmata has developed algorithms to better understand and track sentiments online. Primer (which also recently started a big round) is also using NLP to help its customers track online information. His clients include government organizations that have used his technology to track misinformation during election campaigns; Bolster (formerly called RedMarlin) is another.
Some of the larger platforms have also become more proactive by bringing tracking technology and talent into the house: Facebook acquired Bloomsbury AI a few years ago for this purpose; Twitter acquired Fabula (and is working on bigger efforts like Birdwatch to create better tools), and earlier this year, Discord acquired Sentropy, another online abuse tracker. In some cases, companies that compete more regularly for eyeballs and dollars even band together to work on efforts together.
It may well be that there will ultimately be multiple efforts and multiple companies doing a good job in this area, much like other corners of the security world that may need more than a hammer to be thrown at problems in order to get them crack. In this particular case, the startup’s growth to date and its effectiveness in detecting early warning signs is one reason investors are interested in ActiveFence.
“We are excited to support ActiveFence on this important mission,” said Izhar Armony, CRV’s main investor, in a statement. “We believe that they are ready for the next phase of growth and can maintain the lead in the dynamic and rapidly growing trust and security market.”
“ActiveFence has emerged as the clear leader in the emerging category of online trust and security. This round will help the company accelerate the growth momentum we have seen over the past several years, ”said Dror Nahumi, General Partner at Norwest Venture Partners, in a statement.