Centre for Cyberhate Research & Policy: Real-Time Scalable Methods & Infrastructure for Modelling the Spread of Cyberhate on Social Media

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences

Abstract

The UK Government's Hate Crime Action Plan (Home Office 2016) stresses the need to tackle hate speech on social media by bringing together policymakers with academics to improve the analysis and understanding of the patterns and drivers of cyberhate and how these can be addressed. Furthermore, the recent Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry (2016) 'Hate Crime and its Violent Consequences' highlighted the role of social media in the propagation of hate speech (on which the proposers were invited to provide evidence). This proposal acknowledges the migration of hate to social media is non-trivial, and that empirically we know very little about the utility of Web based forms data for measuring online hate speech and counter hate speech at scale and in real-time. This became particularly apparent following the referendum on the UK's future in the European Union, where an inability to classify and monitor hate speech and counter speech on social media in near-real-time and at scale hindered the use of these new forms of data in policy decision making in the area of hate crime. It was months later that small-scale grey literature emerged providing a 'snap-shot' of the problem (Awan & Zempi 2016, Miller et al. 2016). In partnership with the UK Head of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Programme at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and the London Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime's (MOPAC) new Online Hate Crime Hub, the proposed project will co-produce evidence on how social media data, harnessed by new Social Data Science methods and scalable infrastructure, can inform policy decision making. We will achieve this by taking the social media reaction to the referendum on the UK's future in the European Union as a demonstration study, and will co-develop with the Policy CI transformational New Forms of Data Capability contributions including: (i) semi-automated methods that monitor the production and spread of cyberhate around the case study and beyond; (ii) complementary methods to study and test the effectiveness of counter speech in reducing the propagation of cyberhate, and (iii) a technical system that can support real time analysis of hate and counter speech on social media at scale following 'trigger events', integrated into existing policy evidence-based decision-making processes. The system, by estimating the propagation of cyberhate interactions within social media using machine learning techniques and statistical models, will assist policymakers in identifying areas that require policy attention and better targeted interventions in the field of online hate and antagonistic content.

Planned Impact

In line with the drive behind the call, this project will co-produce a strong evidence base on the utility of social media data to inform policy development, intervention and decision making. The project will provide a case study that will demonstrate how these data, when effectively and efficiently collected, transformed and repurposed using Social Data Science tools and methods, can have a transformative impact on how governments work to address contemporary pressing social problems. We have selected cyberhate in the aftermath of the referendum on the UK's future in the EU as a case study for understanding the relationship between social media data and policymaking.

We will work closely with the Policy CI, the UK Head of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Programme at the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the London Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime Online Hate Crime Hub, to co-produce an evidence base on the utility of social media data for policy and decision making. We will achieve this by:

--Involving the UK Head of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Programme and the MOPAC Online Hate Crime Hub in the design, testing, analysis and implementation phases of the project, to ensure maximum buy-in at a policy level

--Running requirements gathering workshops with policymakers for tool and system development

--Testing the system developed in WP6 in a policy environment and writing lessons-learned report

--Conducting post-hoc interviews with policymakers to inform an ESRC Policy Evidence Briefing and an Ethics Guide for Policymakers

--Providing free access to new Lab social media hate and counter speech classification tools for not-for-profit use

Publications


10 25 50