Hate Speech Detection: A Solved Problem? The Challenging Case of Long Tail on Twitter

Tracking #: 1832-3045

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Ziqi Zhang
Lei Luo

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Guest Editors Semantic Deep Learning 2018

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In recent years, the increasing propagation of hate speech on social media and the urgent need for effective counter-measures have drawn significant investment from governments, companies, and empirical research. Despite a large number of emerging, scientific studies to address the problem, the performance of existing automated methods at identifying specific types of hate speech - as opposed to identifying non-hate - is still very unsatisfactory, and the reasons behind are poorly understood. This work undertakes the first in-depth analysis towards this problem and shows that, the very challenging nature of identifying hate speech on the social media is largely due to the extremely unbalanced presence of real hateful content in the typical datasets, and the lack of unique, discriminative features in such content, both causing them to reside in the ‘long tail’ of a dataset that is difficult to discover. To address this issue, we propose novel Deep Neural Network structures serving as effective feature extractors, and explore the usage of background information in the form of different word embeddings pre-trained from unlabelled corpora. We empirically evaluate our methods on the largest collection of hate speech datasets based on Twitter, and show that our methods can significantly outperform state of the art, as they are able to obtain a maximum improvement of between 4 and 16 percentage points (macro-average F1) depending on datasets.
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