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Google and ProPublica Team Up To Build a National Hate Crime Database (techcrunch.com) 310

In partnership with ProPublica, Google News Lab is launching a new tool to track hate crimes across America. The "Documenting Hate News Index" is being powered by machine learning to track reported hate crimes across all 50 states, collecting data from February 2017 onward. TechCrunch reports: Data visualization studio Pitch Interactive helped craft the index, which collects Google News results and filters them through Google's natural language analysis to extract geographic and contextual information. Because they are not catalogued in any kind of formal national database, a fact that inspired the creation of the index to begin with, Google calls the project a "starting point" for the documentation and study of hate crimes. While the FBI is legally required to document hate crimes at the federal level, state and local authorities often fail to report their own incidents, making the data incomplete at best.

The initiative is a data-rich new arm of the Documenting Hate project which collects and verifies hate incidents reported by both individual contributors and by news organizations. The Hate News Index will keep an eye out for false positives (casual uses of the word "hate" for example), striking a responsible balance between machine learning and human curation on a very sensitive subject. Hate events will be mapped onto a calendar in the user interface, though users can also use a keyword search or browse through algorithmic suggestions. For anyone who'd like to take the data in a new direction, Google will open sourced its data set, making it available through GitHub.

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Google and ProPublica Team Up To Build a National Hate Crime Database

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  • by klingens ( 147173 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @02:10AM (#55046703)

    Wonder how they train this pseudo-AI to recognize what hate crime is. Humans can't really reliably do it, it's always a judgment call very much biased by the individual person's view, especially political views.
    And when this AI then can reliably reproduce the views of the one paying for it, Google, then it's awesome to filter pretty much the whole internet the way they want.

    The future is a brave new world and I'm very happy to be a part of it!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Governments, political parties, faith groups, cults, NGO's, brands, nations, historians, the security services, authors, celebrities will soon want their own additions to what a crime is.
      All with equal standing to have terms and words added, tracked and reported on.
      • by skam240 ( 789197 )

        I understand there's plenty of room for ambiguity for things like this but anyone who describes someone as the lesser because of race/religion/sexuality/etc pretty easily falls into a category of undesirables by any part of society I have any respect for.

        Maybe you're a Nazi, maybe a hardcore Christian, maybe a hardcore Muslim, maybe some sort of other extremist. I don't care. They're all scum to me.

        On the other hand if you're for a free and open society where everyone lives their lives according to their ow

        • by syzler ( 748241 ) <david@syzd e k . n et> on Saturday August 19, 2017 @04:44AM (#55047021)

          ...anyone who describes someone as the lesser because of race/religion/sexuality/etc pretty easily falls into a category of undesirables...

          Maybe you're a Nazi, maybe a hardcore Christian, maybe a hardcore Muslim, maybe some sort of other extremist. I don't care. They're all scum to me.

          You just described hardcore Christians and maybe hardcore Muslims as scum due to their religion. Does this not make you an undesirable by your own reasoning? Perhaps the world is more nuanced than you allow for in your reasoning and perhaps degenerating an entire group due to either stereotypes or lack of understanding of a group's beliefs is not wise nor fair.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Barsteward ( 969998 )
            That depends what those hardcore religious people are doing. if they are spreading hate, threatening people, generally being a catalyst for violence etc, then the comment is fine. but if they are within their own community keeping to themselves and not bothering anyone, i doubt anyone would have a problem with them.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by epine ( 68316 )

            You just described hardcore Christians and maybe hardcore Muslims as scum due to their religion. Does this not make you an undesirable by your own reasoning?

            Here, let me help you.

            if (hardcore_attitude &&
            (Christian || Muslim || yadayada))
            denounce();

            If I presented that block to you in code review, you'd make the same observation?

            Here, let me help you again.

            if (hardcore_attitude) {

            • by syzler ( 748241 )

              if (hardcore_attitude && (Christian || Muslim || yadayada)) denounce();

              You too are falling into the same self denunciation. The idea that denouncing someone for having a "hardcore attitude" without nuance is in my mind also a hardcode attitude and adding "extra_denounce" for a person's religion is also repugnant.

              The last time I checked, the judge does not add extra time to a prison sentence during sentencing due to the defendant being Christian, Muslim, or "yadayada". However I do believe that the judge usually has some leeway in terms of the sentencing depending upon the nua

          • by skam240 ( 789197 )

            By hardcore I mean those who seek to impose their beliefs on others. A belief that people should not impose their beliefs on others is not the same as one that does any more than some one who believes freedom of speech is not trying to subvert the speech of those who don't.

        • >They're all scum to me.

          And you are scum to me.

          • And you are scum to me.

            In the long run, we're all scum. If that's all you have to add to the conversation, you have nothing worth adding.

            • by skam240 ( 789197 )

              You seem very catholic in said opinion. As some one of a Catholic background I reject such things as original sin. One only has to look at the plethora of studies done on young children playing amongst themselves. They could give a rats ass about ethnicity or anything else unless they were told to believe otherwise.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Is there any evidence to support this? Seems like some groups have been demanding things like blasphemy be banned forever, but Google hasn't done much for them.

        • Maybe not explicitly. But with the rise of "islamophobia" (a particularly nasty term), some people feel that certain minority religions need extra legal protection against "hate". It has been suggested, even in the upper echelons of the EC, that there ought to be laws against islamophobia, and that mere criticism of that religion should fall under the definition of that word. In this day and age I can see companies jumping on that bandwagon, either out of their own volition or because they are being pres
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Some people conflate Islam with race. In fact a lot of people do when it comes to discrimination. So there is some desire to protect people from a kind of racial discrimination, but stuff like blasphemy laws can fuck right off.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Wonder how they train this pseudo-AI to recognize what hate crime is

      It's a pretty simple algorithm actually:

      IF Victim = ("black" OR "woman" OR "gay" OR "Muslim") AND Perpetrator = "straight white male"
              THEN HateCrime = TRUE
              ELSE HateCrime = FALSE

    • by w3woody ( 44457 )

      Remember Microsoft's racist AI? [theverge.com] Or how about the racist algorithms being used in criminal sentencing? [lawnewz.com]

      The problem with developing an AI to detect "hate crimes" is "garbage in, garbage out": you can never create a race-free AI if you train it using bad data which may be racially biased. And because we cannot train AIs without input data, and because the input data is all bad--all we would be doing is hard-coding bad assumptions into inscrutable and unaccountable algorithms.

    • I know you wrote that in jest, but you're very much on target.

      I think we're too far down the slippery slope to ever recover. It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
      Lock and load, people.
    • Wonder how they train this pseudo-AI to recognize what hate crime is. Humans can't really reliably do it, it's always a judgment call very much biased by the individual person's view, especially political views.

      The problem has been solved long ago; all Google has to do is to follow the lessons of their illustrious predecessors in the promotion of right thinking:

      There will be some innocent victims in this fight against Fascist agents. We are launching a major attack on the Enemy; let there be no resentment if we bump someone with an elbow. Better that ten innocent people should suffer than one spy get away. When you chop wood, chips fly.

      Nikolai Yezhov, People's Comissar for Internal Affairs and head of the NKVD

      Just flag it as hate anyway - you can be sure somebody somewhere will be offended.

    • by Z80a ( 971949 )

      The AI probably will learn it quite well.. but then the owners of the AI will not like the opinion of it, and will force the AI to do what they want with blacklists and filters on top of it, like blocking the AI from acting when its a case of "hate against white people".

  • Whats next? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @02:24AM (#55046733) Journal
    Blasphemy? Cartoons and animations about faith need to be tracked too?
    Ag-gag https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] ?
    Governments who don't like dissidents?
    Authors?
    Negative movie reviews?
    Books?
    Statues?
    History?
    Tiananmen square?
    Whistleblowers?
    Whats next for tracking and sorting for contextual information?
    • > Cartoons and animations about faith need to be tracked too?

      Cartoons are already properly dealt with in the only right way.

  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 19, 2017 @02:25AM (#55046737)

    We already HAVE crime statistics reported by the police and the FBI as they document crime.

    This is just a VOLUNTARY database (which I'm sure won't be abused) to build up a list of crimes, many of which aren't even legally defined as a crime and charges that were never investigated or go to trial but people's names will be tracked in the database anyway.

    We've moving to the next stage of thought crimes where you will be ostracized and penalized because you said she instead of xhe (which is now a punishable crime in California) or because you state anything that's not in step with the gestapo of politically correct thought.

    This is not a good thing, these are not enlightened times. We have abandoned objective truth and free speech for a political, nearly religious ideology.

    Dark times for the world.

  • Dangerous idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @02:59AM (#55046825) Homepage

    This is a dangerous idea. Some group, not answerable to anyone, gets to put people into a database of "wrongthink". TFS and TFA talk about "hate crimes" - one would like that to imply that they would only collect law enforcement data, ideally restricted to actual convictions. That might be ok, but that's not what they're doing.

    In fact, the "hate crime" collection apparently involves becoming a central repository for any sort of article, blog post, or whatever that talks about supposed incidents of "hate". That would be bad enough, since the criteria are entirely subjective.

    But it's worse than that. If you go to the actual project page [propublica.org], they want to document hate crimes and "bias incidents". For the latter, they are happy to accept individual stories. Who gets to define what constitutes a "bias" incident?

    At best, this is just another SJW right-think project, giving the long list of corporate sponsors a wonderful opportunity to virtue signal. At worst, if individual people are named in the individual stories they intend to collect, it will become a form of arbitrary, non-judicial punishment with no recourse to the people named.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Where do you draw the line? Wikipedia has a list of people associated with the alt-right, for example, with articles documenting the stuff they have said and done.

      swjlist.com has a list of alleged SJWs. Is that okay? Do you still think it's SJWs compiling lists of themselves?

    • by w3woody ( 44457 )

      What would be funny to me is if they accept all stories based on "being struck or physically assaulted based on my own personal beliefs."

      I guarantee the database would then be overran with a million stories of folks on the right being attacked by Union members or Antifa marchers attacking reporters. Worse, we may even incentivize idiots like the person who went to the Durham NC left-wing protests organized by the communist Workers World Party with a pro-Trump message, just so they can become a right-wing m

  • From the project page [propublica.org]:

    Hate crimes and bias incidents are a national problem, but there’s no reliable data on the nature or prevalence of the violence. We’re collecting and verifying reports to create a national database for use by journalists, researchers and civil-rights organizations.

    The 2016 election left many in America afraid – of intolerance and the violence it can inspire. The need for trustworthy facts on the details and frequency of hate crimes and other incidents born of prejudice has never been more urgent.

    At this point, there is simply no reliable national data on hate crimes. And no government agency documents lower-level incidents of harassment and intimidation, such as online or real-life bullying. Documenting and understanding all of these incidents – from hate-inspired murders to anti-Semitic graffiti to racist online trolling – requires new, more creative approaches.

  • by Wizardess ( 888790 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @04:47AM (#55047025)

    They appear to be self appointed arbiters of freedom of speech. This is what happened early on during the Wiemar Republic as Hitler's Brown Shirts stated govern the public discourse with violence and coercion.

    More recently in the US I remember the censorship of pornography. The standard was, "I'll recognize it when I see it." It took us a long time to get rid of that censorship. And now we have Google and Pro Publica starting to do the same thing themselves in the name of hate speech, which they refuse to define. "I'll recognize it when I see it." The basic problem is the designated hate speech can be and often is carefully documented taken from primary sources available to everybody. We have somebody going around collecting information, documenting it, and presenting it accurately being censored because the resulting document somehow is this undefined thing called "hate speech."

    This action of censorship is purely a symptom of their participating in what they claim they are trying to stop, Fascism in all its odious putrid excrescence.. You can see this if you read William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." This is a heavy read. It is a scary read. It reveals how "movements" such as Antifa are doing exactly what the Germans did leading up to the collapse of the Wiemar Republic and WW-II.

    Please, Google, go back to your roots, "Do no wrong."

    {^_^}

    • by cryptizard ( 2629853 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @05:38AM (#55047153)

      This is what happened early on during the Wiemar Republic as Hitler's Brown Shirts stated govern the public discourse with violence and coercion.

      Just clarifying here, you are using nazi atrocities to justify why we should now be tolerant of nazis?

      This is a heavy read. It is a scary read. It reveals how "movements" such as Antifa are doing exactly what the Germans did leading up to the collapse of the Wiemar Republic and WW-II.

      If you are so familiar with the rise of the nazi party why are you not freaking out at what is happening right now in the US? If we say, "oh they are a small group of crazy people, just ignore them and they will go away," that is exactly what happened in Germany before the nazis managed to pit everyone against each other and wrest control of the government. What do you think we should do to prevent that from happening here? Because allowing them a platform didn't work very well last time.

      • I thought we were supposed to be tolerant of everyone. And how many nazis are there? I have never met one, but knew someone who was a hitler youth.
  • by Slugster ( 635830 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @06:08AM (#55047235)
    A long time ago governments (of all varieties) would keep huge amounts of paper records on anyone or anything they thought was suspicious.
    And they could afford to pay people to generate LOTS of records, so there ended up being so many records on paper that they became difficult to use.
    Much of the information retained turned out to be ultimately worthless. And of what little of it would have been valuable, there was no way to search or access it efficiently, so it often turned out to be worthless as well.

    When computers came along, it was said that they would fix that problem...... And for a while the computers did... But maybe even that tide is now turning?

    What this basically amounts to is a special project to discover and sub-index results that are already in Google's database system, but that cannot be searched or accessed conveniently by the normal means.
    ?
    So what is the next stage in search engine design?
    Is it to selectively forget results that people click on the least? (not just push them down in the results, but remove them entirely?)
    Do a search engine's indexes regularly need to be pruned to improve results?
  • by CustomSolvers2 ( 4118921 ) on Saturday August 19, 2017 @06:31AM (#55047281) Homepage
    No person or corporation can unilaterally decide who is committing a crime and punish the corresponding authors (being in such a database might become an important punishment). In any civilised society, the process should consist in: reasonable evidence of a behaviour against the (ideally fair) law; (ideally fair) trial; and condemn also stating the level of publicity of the corresponding crime/punishment. Not even government-related bodies (e.g., police or public organisations) can avoid that proceeding without facing consequences. Just the fact of even considering the option of allowing private, egoist/pro-profit interests to be in such a judge-jury-executioner position is completely unacceptable. They shouldn't even have proposed such a thing and the corresponding legal bodies shouldn't allow ideas on these lines to ever become a reality.

    Clarification for anyone interested: I don't consider myself a potential victim of this kind of things. I am a hate-free person with virtually no prejudices of any kind. Sometimes, I can have a quite aggressive attitude, but always as a reaction to a previous attack and by focusing on the given personality (e.g., "you are an idiot") rather than on generic features like ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. In summary, this post isn't precisely meant to protect myself, but to contribute towards avoiding the ridiculous nonsense of granting more unfair power to doing-everything-for-their-own-growth corporations.
    • by w3woody ( 44457 )

      You mean the CEOs of companies like Google and Apple and Amazon have become modern-day Robber Barons, seeking to control governments and culture without being accountable to anyone, even going so far as to suggest laws that lock in their power?

      Huh. Odd how power corrupts even the most "woke" folks. Almost like it'd be nice if we had things like checks and balances or something.

      • The only goal of a company is to become wealthier regardless of anything else. Usually, the upper managerial staff tend to have kind of (because I guess that they have some limits, after all they are human beings; at least, this is what someone told me once. LOL) similar expectations. Individual citizens are too weak to fight these greedy and usually aggressive-to-anyone-else attitudes and this is where governments and legislations come in. Companies only do good if they are forced to do so. Governmental bo
  • Or Twitter? After all, they aid and abet this shit in the first place, and their behavior shows it. Aiding and abetting a hate crime is part of hate crimes, IIRC.

  • Did they include the Facebook Live Torture case as a hate crime?

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/10/... [cnn.com]

    Black on white crime is hateful too.

  • surely, "hate news database" is much less menacing and Orwellian than "hate crime database"

  • I hate everybody. Equally. If everyone knows I'm a hater, maybe they'll stay away.
  • ProPublica is not "Journalism in the Public Interest." It is a leftist propaganda outlet funded by the Sandlers who became wealthy from their subprime mortgage scam. You can see them portrayed by SNL in this video. https://archive.org/details/Pu... [archive.org] That Google should be involved with them means I will be using a different search engine.
  • Don't you think that the concept of "thought crime" is already bad enough?

  • Hate Crime.

  • Whenever collecting data and visualizing it in various reports, there usually is an intended purpose, i.e. who's going to be looking at the reports and what actions and/or decisions will be made based on those reports. Those actions/decisions should in turn change the next iteration of the report, closing the control loop.

    Can I someone enlighten me what exactly is this hate reporting expected to accomplish? Who is the intended audience and what decisions are they expected to make based on this report?

  • So put me on the list.

Interchangeable parts won't.

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