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Countering Harmful Speech Online

April 12, 2016

As part of National Volunteer Week this month, we are profiling our DataCorps volunteers of projects past, present and future. These volunteers donate a whopping 5-10 hours a week over the course of several months to apply data science techniques that can help advance a social change organization's mission.

"The team has been enthusiastic in working on the difficult challenge of finding constructive exchanges of views between strangers online. Thank you for joining us in these efforts which will eventually help us to make the Internet safer and more civil."

-Dangerous Speech Project

According to the Dangerous Speech Project, "inflammatory public speech rises steadily before outbreaks of mass violence, suggesting that it is a precursor of, or even a prerequisite for violence." That's why the Dangerous Speech Project works to prevent violence by finding ways to diminish (or decrease the impact of) hateful, inflammatory speech.

They've found that certain hateful speech is combatted by what they call "counter speech"or people responding to that person to debunk their statements, causing the person to recant. They wanted to understand this behavior, and turned to a DataCorps team - Matt Lentz, Warren Reed, Tushar and Ravi Arvapally - for help.

The DataCorps team has been working on methods to detect constructive responses to harmful speech on social media. They first had to find an automated way of collecting instances of counter speech and have since been analyzing behaviors of those cases to actually understand what's happening over time.

What inspires this team to give back?

"It's an opportunity to work with talented data scientists and make a real difference in the world."

Matt Lentz 
Matt is a Management Consultant in the FSO Strategy Practice of Ernst & Young. Focusing on customer growth and digital strategy cases for his clients, Matt enjoys creating realistic and impactful solutions to complex problems. Meet Matt >


"I enjoy working with smart data people to help solve problems for social good!"

Warren Reed 
Warren is a Data Scientist who likes to make sense of dirty, complex, real-world data. Currently working with financial data, Warren is improving the state of financial data and building tools to fill important data gaps present in the financial system at the U.S. Treasury's Office of Financial Research. Meet Warren >


"It's my second time working for a Datakind project. It's just not for the experience, but as a badge I can wear and talk about to anyone with full pride."

Tushar 
Tushar is an engineer at a New York based startup: VMTurbo. He is interested in crunching messy data for good and larger impact, than generate more ad-clicks for web corporations. Meet Tushar >

"It provides an opportunity for me to utilize my skills for the greater good."

Ravi Arvapally
Ravi Arvapally is a Data Scientist at MasterCard. He is passionate about social computational dynamics in social networks and Data-mining. Prior to joining MasterCard, Ravi earned his PhD from Missouri S&T, Rolla. Meet Ravi >

Learn more April 14

Warren will be presenting a flash talk on the team's work ahead of MLConf at a Meetup in New York this Thursday - join us! RSVP >