A Novel Methodology for Developing Automatic Harassment Classifiers for Twitter
Ishaan Arora | Julia Guo | Sarah Ita Levitan | Susan McGregor | Julia Hirschberg
Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Online Abuse and Harms
Most efforts at identifying abusive speech online rely on public corpora that have been scraped from websites using keyword-based queries or released by site or platform owners for research purposes. These are typically labeled by crowd-sourced annotators – not the targets of the abuse themselves. While this method of data collection supports fast development of machine learning classifiers, the models built on them often fail in the context of real-world harassment and abuse, which contain nuances less easily identified by non-targets. Here, we present a mixed-methods approach to create classifiers for abuse and harassment which leverages direct engagement with the target group in order to achieve high quality and ecological validity of data sets and labels, and to generate deeper insights into the key tactics of bad actors. We use women journalists’ experience on Twitter as an initial community of focus. We identify several structural mechanisms of abuse that we believe will generalize to other target communities.
We present a neural-network based approach to classifying online hate speech in general, as well as racist and sexist speech in particular. Using pre-trained word embeddings and max/mean pooling from simple, fully-connected transformations of these embeddings, we are able to predict the occurrence of hate speech on three commonly used publicly available datasets. Our models match or outperform state of the art F1 performance on all three datasets using significantly fewer parameters and minimal feature preprocessing compared to previous methods.