The ADL’s Online ‘Hate’ Index: Implications of Automated Censorship

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In January of 2018, The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith’s (ADL) Center For Technology & Society, in partnership with UC Berkeley’s D-Lab, debuted a report on their Online Hate Index (OHI), a scalable machine learning tool designed to help tech companies recognize “hate” on the internet. According to the promotional video released in support of the project, the OHI is between 78-87% accurate at discerning online “hate.” Among some of the OHI’s more bizarre “hate” designations were subreddit groups for the ‘First Amendment’ (to the US Constitution), ‘Guns Are Cool’, ‘The Donald’, ‘Men’s Rights’, ‘911 Truth’ and ‘White Rights’, among many others (the ADL thanks Reddit for “their continued support, in their 20 page report on Phase One of the project).

ADL CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt said of the project:

“For more than 100 years, ADL has been at the forefront of tracking and combating hate in the real world. Now we are applying our expertise to track and tackle bias and bigotry online. As the threat of cyberhate continues to escalate, ADL’s Center for Technology and Society in Silicon Valley is convening problem solvers and developing solutions to build a more respectful and inclusive internet. The Online Hate Index is only the first of many such projects that we will undertake. U.C. Berkeley has been a terrific partner and we are grateful to Reddit for their data and for demonstrating real leadership in combating intolerance on their platform.”

ShowImage.jpg
Businessman J. Greenblatt, successor to Abraham Foxman.

Brittan Heller, ADL’s Director of the Center for Technology & Society and former Justice Department Official, remarked:

 

“This project has tremendous potential to increase our ability to understand the scope and spread of online hate speech. Online communities have been described as our modern public square. In reality though, not everyone has equal access to this public square, and not everyone has the privilege to speak without fear. Hateful and abusive online speech shuts down and excludes the voices of the marginalized and underrepresented from public discourse. The Online Hate Index aims to help us understand and alleviate this, and to ensure that online communities become safer and more inclusive.”

Heller01
Promotional photo of Heller, assumedly in the process of turning into a piece of Juicy Fruit.

Whilst this may seem trivial and unworthy of attention it is anything but, given that the ADL is a immensely powerful organization with its tendrils in some of the most influential institutions on earth, such as Google, Youtube and the US Government, just to name a few. The ADL has, in the past, branded Pepe The Frog as a “hate symbol”, declared criticism of Zionism to be defacto “antisemitic” (a trend which even the other Jewish groups have raised a brow about, such as The Forward, who described ADL as being possessed of “moral schizophrenia”), declared any usage of the term globalist (an objective descriptor of political ideology) to be “antisemitic.”

Given the ADL’s history of criminal and foreign collusion as well as their extremely vague and often politically opportunistic decision-making pertaining to what does and does not constitute “hate speech” this issue should concern every American citizen, as it is only a matter of time before all of the major tech platforms associated with, or partial to, the ADL begin utilizing the OHI to track, defame, ban and/or de-platform dissidents. Also, what kind of culture will algorithmic tracking of supposed hate breed? What begins solely on the internet, rarely, if ever, remains perpetually so…

On further analysis, there is another issue at play, that of the proposed solution having the complete opposite effect; for when a individual, especially, but not exclusively, one who is marginalized or otherwise alienated from society, is constantly berated, censored, banned off platforms, designated a public menace and otherwise shunned (in place of being constructively re-enfranchised) the trend is not away from but towards extremity.


Here is the promotional video for the program (like all of the ADL’s videos, comments have been disabled and likes and dislikes have been hidden).


CTS Online Hate Index Innovation Brief (20 pages) [PDF]

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