Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech on Social Media Platforms

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Home Breaking Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech on Social Media Platforms

Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech on Social Media Platforms

A team of researchers at the University of Waterloo has developed an innovative machine-learning method that significantly improves hate speech detection on social media platforms. The method, known as the Multi-Modal Discussion Transformer (mDT), achieves an impressive 88% accuracy, surpassing previous approaches and potentially saving employees countless hours of emotionally taxing work.

Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech On Social Media Platforms

Understanding Context and Reducing False Positives

Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech On Social Media Platforms

The mDT goes beyond traditional hate speech detection methods by considering both text and images, allowing it to better understand the context of comments. Unlike previous models, which often flagged innocuous statements due to cultural nuances, the mDT provides a more accurate assessment.

Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech On Social Media Platforms

Liam Hebert, a Waterloo computer science PhD student and the study’s first author, emphasised the importance of reducing the emotional toll on human moderators. “We really hope this technology can help reduce the emotional cost of having humans sift through hate speech manually,” he said. By adopting a community-centred approach, the researchers aim to create safer online spaces for all users.

Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech On Social Media Platforms

Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech On Social Media Platforms

Machine-learning Method Detects Hate Speech On Social Media Platforms

Context Matters

Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech On Social Media Platforms

Understanding context is crucial when identifying hate speech. For instance, a seemingly harmless comment like “That’s gross!” takes on different meanings depending on whether it’s in response to a photo of pineapple-topped pizza or directed at a person from a marginalised group. While humans intuitively grasp these distinctions, training a model to recognise contextual connections within discussions—especially considering images and other multimedia elements—is a challenging task.

Machine-Learning Method Detects Hate Speech On Social Media Platforms

A Comprehensive Dataset

The Waterloo team’s breakthrough lies in their dataset. Rather than relying solely on isolated hateful comments, they included contextual information. The model was trained on 8,266 Reddit discussions, comprising 18,359 labeled comments from 850 communities. This comprehensive approach contributes to the mDT’s superior performance.

A Global Need

With over three billion people using social media daily, the impact of these platforms is unprecedented. Detecting hate speech at scale is essential for fostering respectful and safe online environments. The research paper, titled “Multi-Modal Discussion Transformer: Integrating Text, Images, and Graph Transformers to Detect Hate Speech on Social Media,” was recently published in the proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

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