Contrary to the ideals of the founders of the internet, we are all not sitting around the online campfire singing “Kumbaya.” Instead, the online world is filled with trolls who seem to find fulfillment in poisoning the well.
Social media entities like Facebook and Twitter have been trying to limit undesirable activities on their sites, but they haven’t been too successful.
If trolls are an internet constant, wouldn’t it be great to parlay their hate into good causes, even if unwittingly?
Cossette Jarrett at Venturebeat writes about how a creative agency is trying out a new approach to the troll problem:
Possible recently launched a new campaign called We Counter Hate that aims to curb the spread of hate speech on Twitter by turning retweets of hate speech into donations to an organization called Life After Hate. The company teamed up with Spredfast to train AI to identify Twitter users spreading hateful messages. Once the AI detects a hateful tweet, human moderators step in to determine the appropriate response.
If a moderator decides the tweet picked up by the AI is, in fact, hate speech, they send a counter message that says, “This hate tweet is now being countered. Think twice before retweeting. For every retweet, a donation will be committed to a non-profit fighting for equality, inclusion, and diversity.” The message also links to the campaign’s website to provide additional information.
In an email to VentureBeat, a Possible spokesperson said, “This reply permanently marks these messages of hate and makes it clear to those who wish to spread hate speech that each retweet of this message equals a $1 donation to U.S. non-profit Life After Hate, an organization that helps reform and remove people from violent extremist groups.”
The team selected Twitter as their first target because it seems to be the megaphone of choice for hate groups.
Tech blogger Alex Lee over at Alphr warns that even sincere attempts to defeat online trolls may fail. Lee sees Possible’s campaign as “incentivizing” hate speech. “If you want to see more of the countering tweets, hate-filled tweets need to be posted on the social network in the first place. People might just end up posting hate speech in order to trigger the bot,” writes Lee.