AI Identifies Coded Hate Speech on Social Media

first_imgResearchers at the University of Rochester have developed an artificial intelligence system that can identify coded hate speech online.In early 2016, Google unveiled tech incubator Jigsaw, with the intention of “substantially reducing” online hate and harassment.But the plan backfired when trolls responded with the “Operation Google” campaign, which replaces racial slurs with names of technology brands and products.“Google,” for example, refers to black people, while fellow search engines “Yahoo” and “Bing” allude to Mexicans and Asians, and Jewish folks are called “Skypes.”The idea was to force Google to censor its own websites by making the common word synonymous with bigotry.Now, analysts at New York’s University of Rochester are fighting back with an AI of their own.The team collected about a quarter of a million unique English tweets from between Sept. 23—the first reported incident of hate-code words—and Oct. 18—a week after the second US presidential election debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.“There were some interesting observations that we noted,” they wrote in a paper that will be presented in May at Montreal’s International Conference on Web and Social Media.The top 10 terms among those tweets labeled as hateful include hashtags #MAGA (Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”), #MAWA (the more racist “Make America White Again”), and #ALTRIGHT. Researchers also found words like “white,” “war,” “hate,” and “destroy.”Of course, none of that should surprise anyone who has not been living in a cave without Internet access for the past two years. What may (and definitely should) appall people, though, is the occurrence of the term “gas,” used almost exclusively within hateful tweets about Jews.“It is particularly this unchecked abject display of hatred and calls for violence that we hoped to capture through our system,” the scientists said.With their project a success—”apart from the system’s ability to predict for a given tweet whether it is hateful or not, the system also generates a list of users who frequently post such content”—the team intends to continue working to curb online harassment.last_img

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