Fighting online hate

Two students from the city are working towards curbing online hate. Their research won the best poster at WWW2017 in Perth.

Just yesterday, at the UK’s first Online Hate Crime Summit, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched a new Scotland Yard police unit to prevent online hate crime. This Online Hate Crime Hub will investigate abuse posted on social media sites. Back home, students from International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (IIIT-H) are also working on the same lines.

Shashank Gupta and Pinkesh Badjatiya’s research that can detect hate speech on social networking sites was voted as the best poster presentation among 166 submissions from around the world at the International World Wide Web Conference (WWW2017) in Perth, Australia.

Through natural language processing and semantics, they developed an automated system using Artificial Intelligence chatbots that can detect sexist and racist speech, abusive language and flag offence content.

Pinkesh, who’s pursuing 3rd year B.Tech in Computer Science dual degree program, says, “There has been an increase in the use of hateful language on social media which results in pollution of young minds and can even encourage communal violence. Our goal was to explore if we can use the advancements in technology to develop a system that benefits a wide range of social media platforms in preventing the spread of toxic content.” Hate speech can be automatically identified from textual data, and categorised into labels such as “sexist” and “racist”. Such a software enables social media platforms to identify and block the perpetrators.


Talking about his experience at Perth, Shashank, 2nd year MS by Research student, says, “Attending WWW17 was great. I could interact with students from top universities, who were working on interesting problems. I could also learn about the local culture.”

So did they experience hate online? “I did not experience it personally, but have seen numerous instances online. Sexist posts against women, particularly against female celebrities are common on social media,” says Shashank, who plans to pursue a PhD in Natural Language Processing.

He adds, “I’m interested in Deep Learning, a subfield of Artificial Intelligence. But my long term goal is to contribute to society through technology.”

Pinkesh, who was introduced to computers in Class 9, has developed a great passion for programming and computer security since then. If they do manage to take time off, Pinkesh and Shashank enjoy reading books and watching movies.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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