Berkeley researchers offer social media platforms easier way to censor

  • Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley are developing a tool that would utilize artificial intelligence to police online "hate speech."
  • The researchers predict that major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will adopt the system.

Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley are in the process of developing an “Online Hate Index,” which could be used to weed out “hate speech” from social media platforms.

UC-Berkeley’s social science D-Lab is taking the initiative to create the hate index, which could be picked up by social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and be used as a tool to identify and remove “hate speech” from their platforms, all using artificial intelligence.

“We are developing tools to identify hate speech on online platforms, and are not legal experts who are advocating for its removal."   

An article by UC-Berkeley’s Alumni Association explains the effort to create the index and suggests that while companies like Facebook and Twitter employ people to scan for “hateful posts,” the employees are often slow and expensive, providing an opening for AI to do the job instead.

[RELATED: Profs develop tool for flagging 'social media prejudice']

The D-Lab and the Anti-Defamation League are working to make it possible to create a “scalable detection” system for online hate speech. The system would utilize artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, as well as humans to sift through massive amounts of online data.

Developers of the tool predict that major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter will use the technology, according to the article. 

Words that the article states are associated with hate speech” are “white,” “black,” “women,” “hate,” “Jew,” and even words such as “old,” “problem,” “country,” and more. Claudia von Vacano, executive director of the D-Lab, reiterated that it is important to distinguish between "hate speech" (speech directed at people of specific classes) and speech that is just offensive (speech directed at individuals without regard to any specific class), according to the article.

“We are developing tools to identify hate speech on online platforms, and are not legal experts who are advocating for its removal,” von Vacano said. “We are merely trying to help identify the problem and let the public make more informed choices when using social media.” 

[RELATED: Rutgers punishes prof for anti-Semitic social media posts]

The D-Lab used Reddit as a trial for the hate index, where they sampled about 10,000 posts for "hate speech."

Similarly, as Campus Reform reported, two professors at the University of Buffalo and Arizona State University promoted a system designed to "automatically detect prejudice in social media posts." The system stemmed from a study done by the two professors.

The program promoted by those professors has the capability to flag some social media posts as “having the potential to spread misinformation and ill will.”

Campus Reform reached out to UC-Berkeley, Facebook, and Twitter but did not receive responses in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @asabes10



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Adam Sabes
Adam Sabes | Mississippi Senior Campus Correspondent

Adam Sabes is Mississippi Senior Campus Correspondent, and reports liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. He is a junior at Mississippi State University, where he is majoring in Journalism. He also contributes to Red Alert Politics. 

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