ADL develops algorithm to track anti-Semitism on social media – J.

When it comes to anti-Semitism on social media, the algorithms governing the major platforms bear some of the blame for their reach. But the Anti-Defamation League hopes to combat the spread by creating its own algorithm.

The Jewish civil rights group announced on Tuesday that it has set up a system called the Online Hate Index, describing it as the first tool ever developed to measure anti-Semitism on social media platforms. The program can quickly sift through millions of posts to detect anti-Semitic comments and assist in their removal.

This system uses an AI-informed algorithm to find and classify posts as potentially anti-Semitic. These messages are then passed on to a team of volunteers and experts, who use their judgment to make the final decision. The system also checks whether the messages are ultimately deleted.

The Online Hate Index was necessary because social media companies are not transparent enough about their efforts to curb the spread of hate speech on their platforms, according to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, whose organization has been lobbying big tech companies on the issue for years. .

“We will use this tool to hold social media platforms accountable for how they proactively remove hate and how their content moderators respond to reports,” Greenblatt said in a statement.

One of the goals of the project is to demonstrate that if the ADL has developed the technology to track anti-Semitism, surely Silicon Valley can do it too – and therefore can do more to address the problem.

Social media companies have tried to tackle anti-Semitism in the past, but their track record is mixed at best. Facebook (now known as Meta) has stumbled over his decision to ban Holocaust denial on its platforms; engineers developed screens that also sometimes blocked legitimate educational messages intended to raise awareness of the Holocaust.


RELATED: Social Media Companies Say They Ban Holocaust Denial. Are they also blocking education?


For its first analysis, the ADL used its system to scan Reddit and Twitter, collecting posts for a week in August last year. The ADL chose these platforms because they are the only major ones to offer open access to their data. Facebook, on the other hand, generally does not allow outside groups to access searches.

The algorithm used by the ADL was trained to spot cases of possible anti-Semitism. In a process known as machine learning, humans labeled comments as anti-Semitic and fed them to the algorithm, which in turn began to recognize patterns. The more comments the algorithm processed, the more effective it became at catching anti-Semites.

Anti-Semitic statements such as “Jews are lizards prove me wrong” and “The Magic of Jewish Mind Control” were among the roughly 2,000 Reddit posts identified by the ADL system, out of some 40 million total comments added to Reddit during this week.

The number of people who view a comment on Reddit is partly determined by whether users “vote up” or “vote down” — and there’s good news in that regard. Users get on average a third fewer anti-Semitic comments than other types of posts, according to a report published by ADL about its analysis.

“Statistical analysis of these scores shows that anti-Semitic content on Reddit is rewarded significantly less than non-anti-Semitic content,” the report said.

For Twitter, which provides only a limited snapshot of its data, the ADL estimated that there were some 27,400 anti-Semitic tweets among the 440 million posted during the week that its software examined, and that these tweets could have been seen by as many as 130 million people.

The ADL warned that it designed its net conservatively and only looked at English text, meaning video, audio and images were excluded, along with anything written. in a foreign language.

On both platforms, most anti-Semitic comments remained in place for months after they were posted and were not removed even after the ADL alerted the platforms to them.

One of the challenges in any attempt to eradicate anti-Semitic discourse is defining the term, with scholars and members having a wide variety of opinions on the matter. A particularly contentious issue is deciding when criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism.

The ADL report says its algorithm is trained by in-house experts and volunteers from the Jewish community. This does not mean that human judgment is entirely outsourced to computers. In the ADL’s system, artificial intelligence is simply used to sift through masses of content, with its human teams ultimately determining which posts constitute anti-Semitism.

To help them in their decisions, each volunteer receives a primer also available on the ADL website. This primer includes a reference to definition of antisemitism drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliancewhich has proven controversial as it focuses on anti-Israel discourse.

Critics say the IHRA’s definition is inappropriate because it has the potential to delegitimize pro-Palestinian activism if adopted by universities and government bodies. Proponents, on the other hand, say any discussion of anti-Semitism today must face attacks on Israel.

In a post on its website prior to the introduction of its software tool, the ADL rejects the idea that adopting the definition could ban criticism of Israel, arguing that the expression of such criticism is protected by the American constitution.

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