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IPFS News Link • Voting - Election Integrity

UK academics to launch 'virus' software for online 'hate speech' in time for 2020

•, Joshua-Caleb Barton

Thanks to researchers at the University of Cambridge, the largest social media companies in the world may soon have the ability to preemptively quarantine content classified by an algorithm as "hate speech"." On October 14, 2019, researcher Stephanie Ullmann and professor Marcus Tomalin published a proposal in the Ethics and Information Technology journal promoting an invention that they claim could accomplish this goal without infringing on individual rights of free speech. Their proposal involves software that uses an algorithm to identify "hate speech" in much the same way an antivirus program detects malware. It would then be up to the viewer of such content to either leave it in quarantine or view it. 

Ullmann and Tomalin argue that exposure to online "hate speech" is a type of harm which "is [as] serious as other sub-types [of harm] (e.g., physical, financial)" and social media users deserve protection from such harm. The proposal states that social media companies' attempts to combat "hate speech" have been inaccurate, untimely, and leaves the companies open to claims of free speech violations. Tomalin argues a middle ground can be found between those who wish to stop all "hate speech" and those who want to protect uninhibited First Amendment speech.