Hate Speech Detection on Twitter: Feature Engineering v.s. Feature Selection

The increasing presence of hate speech on social media has drawn significant investment from governments, companies, and empirical research. Existing methods typically use a supervised text classification approach that depends on carefully engineered features. However, it is unclear if these features contribute equally to the performance of such methods. We conduct a feature selection analysis in such a task using Twitter as a case study, and show findings that challenge conventional perception of the importance of manual feature engineering: automatic feature selection can drastically reduce the carefully engineered features by over 90% and selects predominantly generic features often used by many other language related tasks; nevertheless, the resulting models perform better using automatically selected features than carefully crafted task-specific features.

Tags: Hate Speech, Social Media, Twitter