Countering hate on social media: Large scale classification of hate and counter speech
Joshua Garland | Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi | Jean-Gabriel Young | Laurent Hébert-Dufresne | Mirta Galesic
Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Online Abuse and Harms
Hateful rhetoric is plaguing online discourse, fostering extreme societal movements and possibly giving rise to real-world violence. A potential solution to this growing global problem is citizen-generated counter speech where citizens actively engage with hate speech to restore civil non-polarized discourse. However, its actual effectiveness in curbing the spread of hatred is unknown and hard to quantify. One major obstacle to researching this question is a lack of large labeled data sets for training automated classifiers to identify counter speech. Here we use a unique situation in Germany where self-labeling groups engaged in organized online hate and counter speech. We use an ensemble learning algorithm which pairs a variety of paragraph embeddings with regularized logistic regression functions to classify both hate and counter speech in a corpus of millions of relevant tweets from these two groups. Our pipeline achieves macro F1 scores on out of sample balanced test sets ranging from 0.76 to 0.97—accuracy in line and even exceeding the state of the art. We then use the classifier to discover hate and counter speech in more than 135,000 fully-resolved Twitter conversations occurring from 2013 to 2018 and study their frequency and interaction. Altogether, our results highlight the potential of automated methods to evaluate the impact of coordinated counter speech in stabilizing conversations on social media.