A new software program is designed to help computer users avoid potentially disastrous email misunderstandings, by detecting the tone destined to cause offence before it has been sent.
ToneCheck analyses the phrases used in an email and evaluates its tone – whether intended or not.
The software, which can be downloaded over the internet and integrated into Microsoft Outlook, works the same way as a spell-checker.
After a writer has composed a message, a click of the mouse will scan the email and tell them its dominant tone.
It detects eight different emotional ratings, from affection or amusement through to anger, fear or humiliation.
Users can set a tone tolerance level that allows the system to prevent them sending an email before checking if it falls outside set parameters.
Adjustments can be made before pushing the send button again.
The company behind ToneCheck, Canadian based Lymbix, cites research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showing more than half of all email messages are interpreted incorrectly.
While welcoming the software, veteran etiquette expert June Dally-Watkins, said she was saddened such an innovation was necessary.
“It’s too bad that machines are beginning to govern us and that they have to say to us ‘you sound angry and impolite’,” she said.
“People now are involved with Facebook and Twitter and pressing buttons and sitting and looking instead of interacting eye to eye and communicating with other people. They are losing their connection with human beings.”