A semi-supervised algorithm for detecting extremism propaganda diffusion on social media

Extremist online networks reportedly tend to use Twitter and other Social Networking Sites (SNS) in order to issue propaganda and recruitment statements. Traditional machine learning models may encounter problems when used in such a context, due to the peculiarities of microblogging sites and the manner in which these networks interact (both between themselves and with other networks). Moreover, state-of-the-art approaches have focused on non-transparent techniques that cannot be audited; so, despite the fact that they are top performing techniques, it is impossible to check if the models are actually fair. In this paper, we present a semi-supervised methodology that uses our Discriminatory Expressions algorithm for feature selection to detect expressions that are biased towards extremist content (Francisco and Castro 2020). With the help of human experts, the relevant expressions are filtered and used to retrieve further extremist content in order to iteratively provide a set of relevant and accurate expressions. These discriminatory expressions have been proved to produce less complex models that are easier to comprehend, and thus improve model transparency. In the following, we present close to 70 expressions that were discovered by using this method alongside the validation test of the algorithm in several different contexts.

Tags: machine learning, Online Extremism, Propaganda, Recruitment, Social Networks, Twitter