Online hate is spreading; Internet platforms can't stop it
Media companies have not figured out what to do about the threats and abuse that pollute their platforms.
“We need to have some kind of objective metrics and come to a socially accepted definition of this before AI is a valid solution. It’s a really hard discussion to have, but it’s one that we need to have.”
— Slater Vitoroff, chief technology officer of Indico, Boston
The suspected shooter who killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue left a trail of virulent anti-Semitism on a social network frequented by right-wing extremists. The man who allegedly mailed bombs to Barack Obama and other prominent figures had been reported for making threats on Twitter.
When online hate spills over into real-life violence, it highlights what is arguably the greatest technological challenge facing the Internet: Media companies have not figured out what to do about the threats and abuse that pollute their platforms.
Despite the promise of artificial intelligence, algorithms have so far proved no match for the nuance of human language; monitoring posts requires not just finding specific words, but understanding meaning, intent, and context.