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Cyber hate speech on Twitter: An application of machine classification and statistical modeling for policy and decision making

Burnap, Peter ORCID: and Williams, Matthew Leighton ORCID: 2015. Cyber hate speech on Twitter: An application of machine classification and statistical modeling for policy and decision making. Policy & Internet 7 (2) , pp. 223-242. 10.1002/poi3.85

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The use of “Big Data” in policy and decision making is a current topic of debate. The 2013 murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London, UK led to an extensive public reaction on social media, providing the opportunity to study the spread of online hate speech (cyber hate) on Twitter. Human annotated Twitter data was collected in the immediate aftermath of Rigby's murder to train and test a supervised machine learning text classifier that distinguishes between hateful and/or antagonistic responses with a focus on race, ethnicity, or religion; and more general responses. Classification features were derived from the content of each tweet, including grammatical dependencies between words to recognize “othering” phrases, incitement to respond with antagonistic action, and claims of well-founded or justified discrimination against social groups. The results of the classifier were optimal using a combination of probabilistic, rule-based, and spatial-based classifiers with a voted ensemble meta-classifier. We demonstrate how the results of the classifier can be robustly utilized in a statistical model used to forecast the likely spread of cyber hate in a sample of Twitter data. The applications to policy and decision making are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff Centre for Crime, Law and Justice (CCLJ)
Computer Science & Informatics
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Uncontrolled Keywords: Twitter; hate speech; Internet; policy; machine classification; statistical modeling; cyber hate; ensemble classifier
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1944-2866
Funders: ESRC, Google Data Analytics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 23:15

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