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Dangerous Speech on Social Media

This project was undertaken in association with Facebook in order to help create a methodology through which Facebook could read and gauge which idioms and linguistic motifs unique to Pakistan can qualify as hate speech, threats or incitements to violence.

It is not a controversial claim that social media, particularly Facebook, has become a means through which to organize and deliver dangerous speech that spreads misinformation and can incite violence directed against individuals as well as groups (including sexual, social, ethnic, geographic and religious minorities). However, Facebook lacked an understanding of idioms and language that is particular to South Asia and has, historically, not been able to detect hate speech when it is presented through such uses of language. To counter this, we developed a methodology that used a ranking system to identify the most at risk minorities present in Pakistan as well as catalogued which idioms, uses of language, metaphors and pejorative terms form the indexical basis of hate speech as it manifests in the Urdu language in order for Facebook to identify and deal with such content in a more effective manner.