A whitepaper distilling LIRNEasia's current thoughts on the possibilities and issues with the computation extraction of syntactic and semantic language from digital text.
Hate speech on Facebook has been an incendiary issue. The latest action is unlikely to be received quietly. Nor is it likely to quell the problem completely. It banned the Buddhist nationalist movement Ma Ba Tha from its platform, as well as a pair of prominent monks known for stoking hatred towards the Rohingya. “They are not allowed a presence on Facebook, and we will remove any accounts and content which support, praise or represent these individuals or organisations,” said content policy manager Mr David Caragliano.
Here is what Mark Zuckerberg said in his testimony before a Senate Committee: He also said that while Facebook is beefing up its use of AI to spot and remove offensive content, it will be five to 10 years before the company will have tools to do this automatically. So I was correct in my phrasing in the New York Times op ed: Media companies of all kinds must accept responsibility and deploy artificial intelligence and plain old elbow grease to the task. And people of good will must play their part by calling out falsehoods and reporting those responsible. So let’s apply the elbow grease while working on the AI.
I said in my NYT piece that banning was not the answer. We needed to work with them to address the very real problems that are facing our societies, based in part on the accelerant qualities of social media. Who is “we”? Not just governments, but also researchers (I cited some MIT research) and civil society. But that was before Aleksandr Kogan.
Social science trains its adherents to be cautious. The dictionary meaning of “to determine” is “to cause (something) to occur in a particular way or to have a particular nature.” We are very careful is ascribing causation, though it is of course of the greatest interest. Lawyers are said to use word like surgeons use scalpels. But the lawyers sent out on Asian missions by the UN appear to use words like meat cleavers.
Hate speech is one area where our thinking was strongly influenced by work in Myanmar. I recall listening to a passionate presentation by Nay Phone Latt on the subject at an awareness program for legislators in Yangon and discussing the issues with Phyu Phyu Thi in relation to her research presentation at IGF in Joao Pessoa. When our researchers were on the field in Myanmar, the problems in the Rakhine emerged. This is a hard problem, requiring balance between prior restraint of speech and control of hate speech leading to violence. We will continue to engage with the topic.
After a weeklong blackout, the Sri Lankan government lifted its nationwide ban on social media on Thursday. Facebook and several other platforms had been shut down after days of violence targeting Muslims in the Kandy district, a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims.
Online hate speech has become commonplace in Myanmar. PEN Myanmar (2015) analysed posts from Facebook over a year, noting that the incidence of hate speech pertaining to a topic was often tied to a controversial, topical event– the appearance of posts regarding politics, for instance, increased during the elections held in November 2015. LIRNEasia and MIDO, along with Kantar TNS Myanmar, were on the field carrying out qualitative research in Myanmar in late August 2017 when conflict in the Rakhine region escalated. Many accounts revolved around the prevailing conflict came up in the interviews with 95 respondents in Yangon, Mandalay and Myitkyina. A few respondents openly expressed their displeasure regarding the situation, and spoke of how the posts they encountered online pushed them to want to incite violence.
I was asked by the FT about the Facebook shut-down decision of the government. Here is my response: It is true that Facebook as well as Viber, etc. have been, and are being, extensively used by various extremist groups to organize. The climate for this conflagration was created by mainstream media such as Divaina, which gave coverage to hate speech as well as by hate speech messages that were circulated among their circles of friends and family without central direction by members of the majority community using social media, not limited to Facebook. The root cause of the problem lies in this insidious spread of falsehoods and hate over multiple years, not solely in the specific messages being communicated now.
Phyu Phyu Thi, LIRNEasia alumnus, takes a lead on saying "no" to online hate speech, through the Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO).
In a wide-ranging interview, Htaike Htaike Aung and Phyu Phyu Thi talk about MIDO and how they approach policy problems in the ICT space. The article.
We only have the work of our MIDO colleagues in the realm of dealing with hate speech. Everyone knows it’s bad, but one man’s hate speech could be another’s free expression. But here is an approach, untested as yet. I am sure Phyu Phyu Thi will be interested in any responses. Counter speech was the main topic when Ms.
For many, the only thing new about what journalists write about mobiles in Myanmar would be Myanmar. But I was thinking about the hate speech angle, which is, without question, going to be extremely significant in that country. Mobiles and social media are not the causes of hate speech; they are the enablers and accelerators of hate speech. Like in the old Yugoslavia, there would have been a lot of enmity toward “the other” in Myanmar. But the whole thing was bottled up and suppressed, not because the military government was against hate speech, but against all speech.