At meetings, events, coffee shops, and campaign offices, Lana Cuthbertson and Kasey Machin kept hearing that online negativity was keeping women from running for office. Aggressive, rude, and degrading comments are a significant problem in digital communities and Lana and Kasey decided to something about it. Along with co-founder Jacqueline Comer, they started Areto Labs, a tech company that creates safe, welcoming online communities using machine learning to track, moderate, and counteract social media abuse.

Toxicity on social media negatively impacts individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Areto’s cutting-edge technology detects online toxicity that often goes unnoticed by traditional social media moderation tools, with a higher sensitivity for racist, ableist, sexist, and anti-2SLGBTQ+ sentiment.

The technology has a tracking features that provides live data reports to help organizations better understand the health of their digital communities. Its moderation features enable social media managers to block, mute, hide, and report unwelcome comments in one convenient dashboard, saving both time and money.

The technology also counteracts the impact of unwelcome messages by conducting digital wellness checks on the mental health of the real people behind accounts. When the software detects opportunities for community-building, it provides “safe to engage” prompts that promote a positive and inclusive online environment.

Areto’s software is also good for business. That’s because stronger online engagement leads to a better relationship with the target audience, and upholding high online community standards can result in more positive brand experience. Additionally, it allows organizations to reach new and diverse online communities, which can lead to increased sales, and leads to happier, more productive employees, who spend less time dealing with online negativity and more time engaging and growing their communities.

Based in Edmonton and founded in 2020, Areto Labs has global sales across North America, Australia and New Zealand, with a diverse portfolio of clients, including the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Sport New Zealand, and the World Rugby Association. The business has also had strong fundraising with over $1 million in private investment and $1 million in non-dilutive funding.   

The company plans to expand into new markets and continue to develop innovative solutions to combat online abuse and harassment. Its focus on creating safe and inclusive online communities, especially for athletes from equity-seeking groups, has led to key global partnerships with notable organizations such as Women in Sport, Women in Football, The Female Drive, Team Heroine, Sheffield Hallam University, and the University of Alberta, as well as with accomplished athletes, including triathlete Chris Mosier and triple long jumper Kayla Bushey. 

Areto Labs has garnered global media attention, participated in international trade missions, and elevated Edmonton’s reputation as a great place to start a business on an international level. The founders have spoken around the world at events, conferences, and podcasts, lending their expertise to solve the global issue of online violence.