The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia exposed shocking violence resulting from a hate crime. ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism venture, reports that incidents of hate are common in the U.S. To better understand these crimes, ProPublica has partnered with Google’s News Lab and data visualization studio Pitch Interactive to build the Documenting Hate News Index. The site collects media reports on hate crimes and bias incidents. Readers can search the incidents according to name, date, and topic.
The site unveils a grim picture regarding hate crimes. It shows how hate crimes have surfaced even if they didn’t capture widespread attention the way the Charlottesville incident did. Reports show that local hate crimes were at its peak in late May. The news during this time included a teacher yanking an 8-year-old student’s hijab and a white supremacist killing a black army lieutenant. Other recorded reports show an increase of hate incidents in schools and anti-Semitism in Phoenix.
How does the Index Track Hate Crime?
Google’s Natural Language API is used to comprehend the topics and content found in hate crimes. This understanding doesn’t just include basic facts, but also concepts such as sentiment and intent. The API also tracks the frequency of names, places, or more common keywords. It can also identify stories that suggest bias, abuse, and hate crime.
Google’s API artificial intelligence capability can extract information seen in news articles, blog posts, and text documents. It draws from more than 3,000 news reports. Reporters also get the latest information, as the Documenting Hate News Index is updated daily. Google also adds that it monitors the list so that “errant stories don’t slip in.” This action specifies the role of the Index in documenting hate crimes and not news that simply mentions the word “hate.”
There’s also an app that lets users filter reports through keyword searches. An algorithm also generates keywords that users can click on to further explore.
Google’s partnership with ProPublica in creating this index is an important step in developing a national database of hate crimes. And it also shows the innovative use of AI in reporting and analyzing the news.