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Hatebase Tries To Scan For Precursors of Genocide In Language 190

Posted by timothy
from the philip-k-dick-to-the-white-courtesy-phone dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Hatebase, a new crowdsourced database of multilingual hate speech from The Sentinel Project, is an attempt to create a repository of words and phrases that researchers can use to detect the early stages of genocide."
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Hatebase Tries To Scan For Precursors of Genocide In Language

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  • hatebase? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Fuck that.

    • ...don't most FPS pub servers have chatlogs?

      It'd be easier to research if they did.

    • Re:hatebase? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jamesh (87723) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @02:58AM (#43376793)
      I'm with you. Haterbase would be a much cooler name.
  • So you could also scan for precursors of the next POTUS from twitter and facebook?
    Ah! I bet you won't!
    • No, start with the Hebrew bible and continue from there, via christianity, especially through the writings of the doctors of the church and popes in times of great wars in Europe and Levant.
    • by slick7 (1703596)

      So you could also scan for precursors of the next POTUS from twitter and facebook? Ah! I bet you won't!

      You would find better examples and the names of haters by looking at the NDAA and those who signed it.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @01:34AM (#43376467) Journal

    My expectation is that this will be used for political infighting, much like the genocide it purports to try to head off.

    The "crowd" will include activists for one (or more) sides of contentious political disputes, who will feed the database with typical word choices of their enemies, in the hope of branding them as potential genocide perpetrators. The result will be a produce far more false positives than true ones (if it produces any of the latter at all).

    Indeed, the very phrase "hate speech" is such a faction-specific term. It is used by the US left wing to attempt to suppress politically incorrect free speech - especially politicall speech - of those with whom they disagree.

    For an example of what I'm talking about, look at the Southern Poverty Law Center's pronouncements - including especially their advice to law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security that displaying bumper stickers supporting Ron Paul during the presidential primary, or any of a number of other pro-Constitution or Tea Party political position messages, was a sign that the driver was a terrorist.

    • by mrbluze (1034940) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @02:12AM (#43376633) Journal

      My expectation is that this will be used for political infighting, much like the genocide it purports to try to head off.

      I rather think this will be used to weed out political dissent among the population.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      The Republican Party spouts "Hate Speech" continuously.

      Priebus accuses Democrats of supporting infanticide

      RNC Chairman Reince Priebus took a break from rebranding the Republican party to accuse Democrats of supporting infanticide.

      He writes on Red State: "The President, the Senate Majority Leader, the House Democratic Leader, and the Chair of the Democratic National Committee (in whose home state this hearing occurred) made funding Planned Parenthood an issue in the 2012 campaign. They should now all be

      • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @04:14AM (#43377021)

        I think you just proved his point. You are doing exactly that, you are using this as fodder for political infighting. You don't like it so you label it as hate speech. Does that mean we treat it the same way Europe treats it? Somebody makes an anti-Semitic comment on twitter, so France wants to put them in jail?

        Anyways, yes they both do it. 10 seconds of google and I found something that tops yours: Obama makes fun of disabled people:

        http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2009/03/president-ob-15-3/ [go.com]

        You're one of those people who I commonly rail against when I say we need to stop treating the election like we're rival football teams. Quite possibly one of the ones I rail against for blind voting.

        • I'm curious what search terms you used. I just read the article you linked, and I would argue that the article is evidence *against* your point rather than for.

          Firstly, it's from 4 years ago. The parent was talking about how stuff is said by republicans continually, and pointed out something from last week.

          Secondly, the president reached out by phone to the head of the special olympics, profusely apologizing for the comments. Unless you can point to a more recent article where Obama, or any other Democra

      • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Saturday April 06, 2013 @04:26AM (#43377063) Journal

        I'm not in the US, so maybe I'm missing some context here, but...

        How on earth are either of the links you've just posted examples of hate speech? The first is a line on the abortion debate that we've seen many times over the years. I'm not going to pick sides in that one; but if you approach the debate (as some people do) with the starting point that foes "life begins at conception" then abortion is infanticide. I think a lot of the lack of civility around that particular debate stems from the fact that neither side recognises just how high the stakes feel for the other side in it.

        The second link is a fairly silly take on the gun control debate that somehow slides into an odd reductio ab absurdum take on the gay marriage debate. But again, incoherent though it is, is it really hate speech?

        If somebody says "All members of (ethnic group x/social group y) are scum! Let's (kill them/throw them out of our country/deprive them of their property rights)" then that feels like hate speech. That's a hell of a long way from either of the examples you link to.

        As a test, let's take an example from a left-wing perspective of somebody linking a (generally supported - the UK public consistently backs a tougher line on welfare in polls) Government policy to murder. In this case, it's the murder of the disabled rather than the infanticide, but I think that's still pretty emotive. So: from the UK's Guardian newspaper [guardian.co.uk]. Is that hate speech?

        If you answer "yes", at least you're consistent. If your answer is no, then it looks more like you're just demonstrating totalitarian instincts to suppress speech that goes against your own values.

        • Actually, the accusation that Democrats support infanticide is based on more than the idea that abortion is infanticide. As the OP pointed out the starting point for the accusation is that Democrats almost uniformly support government funding of Planned Parenthood. In a legislative hearing on a bill to require abortion clinics to provide medical care to a baby born alive after an attempted abortion, Planned Parenthood's representative repeatedly stated that whether or not to provide any care to the infant (
          • by Rockoon (1252108)
            While on the subject of Planned Parenthood in a discussion of "hate speech" and "genocide", the racial breakdown of aborted fetuses in America is appalling, and in fact the number of Blacks killed by abortion in America outnumber all other causes of death combined. Hispanics arent far behind in these statistics.

            I don't want to turn this into a "Planned Parenthood is racist" discussion, because that speaks to motives and I don't think motives matter. The end result matters, and its a fucking holocaust.
            • Whatever the motives of those involved with Planned Parenthood today (and you are correct that end results are more important than motives), it is clear from their writings that those who started Planned Parenthood had racist motives. That is, one of their goals in establishing Planned Parenthood was to reduce the number of minorities as a percentage of the population.
      • by khallow (566160)
        Ah, yes, where would we be without the ignorant to tell us what "hate speech" should mean? You see this as "hate speech". I see this as an example of the new civility in politics. The fact that you considered these even worthy of discussion indicates to me the total bankruptcy of modern political correctness. Feel free to go back to the infanticide, bestiality, or whatever it is you do when you aren't posting insipidly on Slashdot.
    • Why is this marked insightful?

      For an example of what I'm talking about, look at the Southern Poverty Law Center's pronouncements - including especially their advice to law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security that displaying bumper stickers supporting Ron Paul during the presidential primary, or any of a number of other pro-Constitution or Tea Party political position messages, was a sign that the driver was a terrorist.

      Let's see, upset at SPLC? Wonder why that is... [cnn.com]

      As far as designating dr

      • You forgot to mention the guy who attempted to go on a murder spree at various organizations designated by the SPLC as "hate groups".
    • by sg_oneill (159032) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @05:24AM (#43377211)

      Yeah dude. Political scientists don't think like that and tend to be fairly serious minded men. If activists are putting in bogus data, its going to stick out like a sore thumb.

      This seems to be more like some of the research google was doing spotting emerging trends via language use.

      Go read the stuff about the 8 stage genocide model and specifically on the 'symbolization' phase. I suspect its more about looking for trends like where a population for instance stops saying "jews" and starts saying "kikes" or whatever, whith the observation that a population is heading towards the crucial dehumanization phase needed to allow people to sleep at night whilst committing genocide.

  • Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @01:37AM (#43376479)

    Now instead of just laws requiring data retention to prevent child pornography, we can now also use genocide prevention as an excuse. And then of course just use it to go after copyright infringers.

    If you want to learn about genocide speech, go to stormfront.org, there's no need to build a new database when somebody has already created one for you.

    • Re:Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @05:48AM (#43377291)

      Correct, genocidal tendencies are not difficult to spot. For one thing a large segment of the population is regularly talking about killing, imprisoning or deporting a smaller segment of the population. Genocide by its nature requires the involvement of lots and lots of people, and they won't be shy about giving you their opinion. For example pre world war 2 Germany was riddled with anti-semitism, that's a hazardous situation. It's not something that appears from a vacuum nor a spontaneous event.

      I'd be very wary of this initiative as another effort to water down terms which describe truly horrendous crimes by assigning them to lesser actions, like the incessant use of 'rape' by hardline misandrists.

    • Re:Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Alsee (515537) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @07:45AM (#43377667) Homepage

      Actually stormfront.org is valuable as a huge negative data point.

      The purpose of their project, as I understand it, is to detect when a population is in the early stages of an actual developing genocide situation. Stormfront.org is a sample of the sort of speech that occurs in a group which is grossly failing to to get anywhere. The stormfronters have all sorts of grand fantasies of what they want and believe, but at least on some level they know damn well that they don't have general public support for it. Stormfront.org's rhetoric is filled with an attitude that they are persecuted victims, the feel frustrated and powerless. I expect that is about the last thing you'd find in a genuine developing genocide situation. In a genuine genocide situation the hate speech agitators are not feeling powerless - they are feeling supported and powerful and emboldened... that they can boldly go out there without hiding their intent, without fear or shame, to seize control, to just plain engage in flagrant public violence.

      The stormfronters feel like powerless victims. They may sneak around in the dark and commit pointless vandalism like spiteful children, but they are not anywhere in the same universe as a situation where people go out in broad daylight committing mass violence and inviting their police-buddies to come along with their cop-cars and heavy weapon supplies.

      -

      • If it is real genocide it will be well hidden in a power structure and hard to detect. For example, a top secret biological warfare project aimed at certain ethnicity will be considered genocide, but won't be detected by these NLP mechanisms.

        • by Alsee (515537)

          a top secret biological warfare project aimed at certain ethnicity... won't be detected by these NLP mechanisms.

          Absolutely correct. Their focus is on real-world cases of countries that have had death squads roaming the streets with guns and machetes.
          They are not-so-much concerned with paranoid conspiracy theories.

          -

  • So... they will immediately run smack-dab into Godwin's Law... ... and, picoseconds later, cease to be relevant!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How many picohitlers is that?

  • Precrime!

    • Precrime!

      I think it's more for detecting genocide before it has official been discovered.
      My guess is that it will key in on "Help, some guys just killed everyone in my village" posts from twitter.

  • ...the name of the Dalek mainframe?
  • Thought crime (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ildon (413912) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @01:48AM (#43376533)

    Sweet. We finally reached the point where we're just looking for thought crimes.

  • It's only bad when it's called genocide.

  • by srussia (884021) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @01:58AM (#43376573)
    From hatebase.org:

    "Language-based classification, or symbolization, is one of a handful of quantifiable steps toward genocide.
    To support Hatebase, please contribute to our database, either by adding vocabulary or by logging sightings and citations.


    My submission:

    Language: Beltwayspeak
    Vocabulary: "senior operational leader", "enemy belligerent", "imminent threat", "organized armed groups"
    Source: http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/sections/news/020413_DOJ_White_Paper.pdf [msn.com]
  • China-Friendly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caiocaiocaio (2883871) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @02:00AM (#43376579)
    1) They are missing most Chinese-language racial slurs, and are apparently not searching for Chinese characters. I think the results would be predominantly Chinese otherwise. I mean, how could they miss "waiguolao"? In China, hearing that word was my red flag to get indoors or to a cop as soon as possible. 2) I could find you literally thousands of websites calling for genocide in China (either against resident minority groups or towards immigrants in China) which don't use any ethnic slurs. Most of the ethnic slurs in China are condescending more than hateful (except those directed at the Japanese), and using more neutral terminology gives pro-genocide Chinese an air of legitimacy. I can remember when "nanlaowai", for example, was quite a popular blog, but their didn't use any racial slurs in spite of the constant demands for the ethnic purification of China. Chalk it up to cultural difference I guess.
    • I'm not sure how you can expect to get anything from a crowdsourced database. What they are creating is like UrbanDictionary.com The guy doing it, Christopher Tuckwood, apparently studied Disaster and Emergency Management at York University. This is how he talks:

      "Our intention with Hatebase was for the data to be used as a contextual layer on top of other monitoring datasets and infrastructure. It's essentially acting as a sort of Z-axis"

      I'm not even sure he knows what he just said there.

    • Very, very interesting. Thanks for sharing some facts.
    • You've actually been to China and you claim this?

      Protip: You are unbelievably clueless.

      "waiguolao" means literally "foreign elder" (wai out(side), foreign: guo country; lao old, aged, elder). "wailao" is also common.

      It is considered an informal but fairly respectful way to address people who don't look like they're Chinese, and is generally not considered pejorative. Yes, it could be used in an insulting manner in the right context, but this is true of many words in English and other languages I speak. And

      • No, you're clueless (Score:4, Informative)

        by Su27K (652607) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @08:26AM (#43377821)
        "waiguolao" definitely has a negative tone to it, and no it cannot be interpreted as "foreign elder". "waiguo" is "foreign country", you got this correct; but here "lao" is not the same Chinese character for "old/elder", it has ren (person) radical and it's a slur for a group of people. I think you confused it with "laowai", which is considered a neutral word to describe a foreigner by Chinese but not so much by the foreigners themselves.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      apparently not searching for Chinese characters

      They're not even allowed. In a time when most of the web has switched over to Unicode this is an unbelievable oversight.
      From the FAQ [hatebase.org]:

      Why doesn't submitted vocabulary retain any accented characters?
      Hatebase is a multilingual platform and accepts all UTF-8 characters (including accented characters), but "latinizes" the main vocabulary field to optimize search performance.
      If you're adding a term with an accent, simply repeat the term somewhere in the "meaning" field, which isn't latinized.

      Why doesn't Hatebase accept non-UTF8 characters?
      At present, Hatebase is architected to display UTF-8 characters only -- basically, the extended Latin alphabet, including accented characters. Further extending Hatebase to logographic character sets is certainly on our roadmap, but may not happen anytime soon unless we hear from our users that it's strongly desired.

      So according to them Chinese characters cannot be encoded in UTF-8? And entries in non-Latin alphabets are excluded from a multilingual database? These people don't know what they're doing.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @02:05AM (#43376609)

    I read that as "hatebook".

    Where you 'enemy' people instead of 'friend' them...

  • by tgv (254536) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @03:19AM (#43376847) Journal

    This sounds a bit off to me. Statistical NLP needs large amounts of data. How many data points do they have that can reliably be labelled "precursor of genocide" vs "no precursor of genocide"? There haven't been that many genocides, is it? And as the article says: "hate speech isn't in short supply"...

  • by nomad-9 (1423689) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @03:24AM (#43376865)
    Just read the part about the 8 stages of genocide of this so-called "Genocide Watch" ( http://www.genocidewatch.org/aboutgenocide/8stagesofgenocide.html [genocidewatch.org] )

    Unfortunately they focus mainly on religious and ethnic hatred, which doesn't really account for some of the biggest genocides of the 20th century like in Pol Pot's Cambodia, Stalin's USSR and Mao's China, They do mention Pol Pot a couple of times, for the "blue ribbon" symbolism and the "Denial" stage, but miss the root of the problem. Their view is shallow at best, IMO.

    It is fashionable to focus almost exclusively on race, religion and nationalism, but ironically, the biggest killings in the past century came from ideologies aiming to unite mankind beyond those "hate" barriers.

    "Genocide Watch" would have probably missed those "early stages" of Communism...
    • by khallow (566160)

      Unfortunately they focus mainly on religious and ethnic hatred, which doesn't really account for some of the biggest genocides of the 20th century like in Pol Pot's Cambodia, Stalin's USSR and Mao's China, They do mention Pol Pot a couple of times, for the "blue ribbon" symbolism and the "Denial" stage, but miss the root of the problem. Their view is shallow at best, IMO.

      But is there anything wrong with the overall categorization? I think a better example would be the conquests of the Mongols (and similar brutal wars, during the fall of the Western Roman Empire). They had many of the characteristics like dehumanization, but they didn't bother with symobolization,or organization. In situations where it was ordered, the Horde moved in and just killed everyone. No need to make plans for genocide when you have an extremely competent and obedient army ready to carry out your ev

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @03:24AM (#43376867)

    The basis for this appears to be pure speculation. There is no actual data (big or otherwise) showing the validity of the assumptions on which this is based.

  • by Takatata (2864109) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @03:25AM (#43376869)
    Always looking for new ways to feel morally superior and lecture others. 'You don't say this', 'you don't say that'. Everyone says that? No negative connotation? Who cares? We say it is discriminating and if you don't follow us, you are a racist. Fortunately those cannot read thoughts, else they would tell you what to think and what not to think.
  • Eradicate ALL those with precursors for perpetrating Genocide!

  • Precursors to genocide. hyperbole much? "Timmys blog sure is strange, seems like he might be on the road to wiping out an entire race of people"
  • How to (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chaos_technique (1191999) on Saturday April 06, 2013 @05:02AM (#43377161)
    Filling the search field with a | (pipe) will give you the full listing of their "base".

    Ha, only 729 ethnic or national slurs?

    Come on, even I could do better than that :-)

    The programming seems interesting too: non ascii characters in the Search box will break the site.

  • Ever hear of double speak or triple speak?

    Any career politician will know it well. Well enough to avoid hate speech while committing genocide.
    How many Iraqi Citizens where victims of "Collateral damage" and what speak was attached to the top command of that happening?

    Hate speech data base? Its called "The other dictionary" when you realize abstract words can have meanings attached not in the standard dictionaries

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Saturday April 06, 2013 @07:11AM (#43377565)
    While precursors of genocide may have been detected in some of my posts, I submit that careful measurements of the skulls of the hatebase designers reveal that they are pathological liars, according to the long established science of phrenology.
  • to do something that any idiot with 5 seconds looking at an Economy can do. Here's a hint: If a lot of people don't have food and there's a nearby ethnic group that makes a good scapegoat you've got a Genocide on your hands. Don't like it? Give 'em food. Seriously ppl, if we hadn't shit all over the Germans at the end of WWI Hitler never woulda got anywhere.
  • That we had already established beyond any reasonable doubt that hateful language was a predictor of genocide?

  • They could just watch for one group of people moving to a new area and taking already scarce resources away from the native ones. That's about 90% of genocides right there.
  • Let's see, just prior to their demographic collapse, creating a population vacuum now being filled by invading populations from around the world, people of European descent were being labeled as"whites" and "racist" and "xenophobic" and "prejudiced" and "discriminatory" and "imperialistic" and "genocidal" and "supremacist", there being "no place for" them if they wanted to be left alone as that would be "segregationists".

    Yep, clearly hate speech causes genocide.

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