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Kelowna  

Wave of kindness in pink

The men and women behind a local tech startup that fights bullying online wore pink today to take a stand against bullying out in the community.

The staff at Community Sift arrived at work today to find pink shirts on each of their desks and a mission to hit the streets together for a Pink Shirt Day flash mob.

Wearing their bright pink new tees, they piled on to Ellis Street and went door-to-door to other local tech startups in the area. Sticking personalized positive Post-it notes scribbled with words of kindness on anyone or anything, in an attempt to #pinkitforward.

One of the company's main initiatives is to eliminate bullying from social games and apps online, so CEO Chris Priebe says his team was excited to help the Pink Shirt Day movement in a meaningful way.

“We are trying to get rid of bullying across the internet,” says Priebe. “We wanted to raise awareness and get everyone thinking about it.”

Community Sift is a company that provides a chat filter and moderation tool that aims to eliminate bullying from the web.

“We process a billion messages in a month and what happens is that we notice only a small percentage of people are causing all the problems, 99 per cent of the people are good, positive and engaging,” says Priebe.

“Why are we letting one per cent of the people destroy the experience for everyone? We should all stand up and wear our pink shirts and say we are not going to put up with this anymore.”

The company's software works by automatically checking banter between video game players, chat room conversations, and comments on websites and messages.

“We will work with large companies like social media groups, messenger apps and games companies and whenever someone is being really mean we can create a signal to say 'this is not cool'. Sometimes you we can just message them and ask them if they realize it is bullying. One study said that 90 per cent of kids will actually apologize and not send that kind of message again.”

Taking off from their building on Ellis Street they shared their #pinkitforward wave of kindness at ProSmart Sports, JBF Sports, Goodsir, Bananatag, Getintheloop, Accelerate Okanagan, co+Lab, Hyper Hippo Games, Streaming Cafe and FreshGrade – all fellow tech startups in town.

“It was pretty cool to have them come in, it is exciting for the afternoon,” says Philip Eland, sales development coordinator for Bananatag. “I think this great because there is a lot of bullying that happens.”

“I am shocked and amazed and delighted. It is such a treat to have them drop in like this,” says Shane Austin, manager of co+Lab.

“I think this will raise some awareness. There are huge proponents of this here and a lot of us have kids and teens, so it is something that will propagate. It is something we will share with our families tonight.”

The push to keep the online world safer for kids and teens also means Community Sift is busy, growing and hiring.

Priebe and the Community Sift team were just featured by Accelerate Okanagan.

“We are one team with one mission: to stop bullying on the web. I am proud of the team and everything we have achieved so far, and I am excited about continuing to make a difference in millions of people's lives online. This is not just a job for us – it is a world-changer,” Priebe told Accelerate Okanagan.

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