In late June and early July OHPI’s CEO, Dr Andre Oboler, met with colleagues in Melbourne (Australia), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Jerusalem (Israel). In each city the Online Hate Prevention Institute’s Fight Against Hate software was presented and discussed. The software using a combination of crowd sourcing, expert solicitation and artificial intelligence to monitor both the levels of online hate and the effectiveness of social media platforms in addressing this hate. The Age newspaper in Melbourne also carried a feature story on the software. The software will revolutionize social media by adding some much needed transparency to the process social media companies engage in when they respond to users’ reports of online hate speech.
In Melbourne a presentation of the software was given as part of the Symposium on “Racism and the health and wellbeing of children and youth – Understanding impacts, finding solutions” held at Melbourne University. Talks at the symposium highlighted the very real impact racism has on health, including on infant mortality, life expectancy and both mental and physical health. The OHPI presentation highlighted how the software could provide access to a pool of data as well as summary statistics which researchers could use to further investigate online hate. At the conference OHPI also presented a poster on racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, highlighting how attacks on one child can have a ripple effect through their social network impacting many other children.
In Kuala Lumpur Dr Oboler gave a talk for the Malaysian Chapter of the IEEE Computer Society at Faculty of Computer Science & Information Technology at Universiti Putra Malaysia. The talk was part of the Distinguished Visitor program and focused on the technical challenges in managing online hate in social media. The talk also discussed the ethical responsibilities of software engineers who develop social media. OHPI’s software was presented along with an explanation of how various technical challenges would be overcome, including problems of scale and deliberate efforts to game the system.
In Jerusalem Dr Oboler presented the software to the steering committee of the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism. The Global Forum is an initiative of the Government of Israel and is coordinated through the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The steering committee which leads the Global Forum is made up of international experts in a variety of areas of antisemitism. Dr Oboler is co-chair of the Global Forum’s Working Group on online antisemitism along with Adv David Matas from Canada. The Working Group had provided feedback on plans for the Fight Against Hate Software at meetings in 2011 and 2013. With the first stage now complete, the steering committee of the Global Forum lent its support to the effort.
Following these three meetings an article published in The Age featured the software and the role it could play in monitoring the response of social media companies when dealing with reports of online hate speech. The article also highlighted how Facebook is making exemptions to allow certain kinds of hate speech to remain on its platform, despite the clear prohibition in its community standards.