An Innovative Smartphone App for Online Hate Speech Reporting Has Been Developed under the Mandola Project, 26 September 2017

PRESS RELEASE

An Innovative Smartphone App for Online Hate Speech Reporting Has Been Developed under the Mandola Project

The app comes after a reporting portal and a monitoring dashboard were created

September 26, 2017- An innovative smartphone app prototype was developed under the MANDOLA (Monitoring ANd Detecting OnLine hAte speech) project. This application gives citizens the opportunity to easily and anonymously report hate speech found in social media and on the web and is compatible with Android, IOS and Windows mobile devices. It also provides statistical analysis of hate speech and includes a FAQs section. The app is one of the technological developments of the Mandola project which ends on September 30, 2017. Some further developments will be needed before making it available to users, and within this framework MANDOLA has provided recommendations in order to ensure that the final version fully respects citizens’ fundamental rights.

The Mandola Smartphone app provides two methods for reporting hate speech. The first one is via the MANDOLA Proxy server, which uses a way back machine and loads the selected URL in a web browser within the application (referred to as InAppBrowser) in order for the user to highlight the hate speech content. The MANDOLA Proxy is mainly used for public encounters of hate speech in sources such as YouTube, Twitter, news sites and forums, where the content can be viewed publicly and the user is not required to provide any personal information. The second method for reporting hate speech is through OCR - Optical Character Recognition. While the user is browsing with his/her private social media accounts via their native applications, he/she can take a screenshot and report the hate speech encounter without providing any personal information. These two methods are used in order to preserve the user’s anonymity and make the reporting easier without reducing the user experience in the social media native applications. The app has been designed so as to enable the user to make a report at a reporting portal.

The second technological solution, developed under the Mandola project was the Monitoring Dashboard, which feeds the smartphone app with hate speech statistics. This multi-lingual monitoring dashboard has been developed in order to offer reliable information about online hate speech. It enables users to focus on their geographic region ranging from their city to their country to the entire European Union. The dashboard uses currently Twitter and Web sites as sources of possible hate-related online content but can be expanded to other ones

Such as the smartphone app, the dashboard is at TRL (Technology Readiness Level) 7: System prototype demonstration in an operational environment, and is accompanied with legal and ethical recommendations for its further development.

The third technological solution developed under the Mandola project is the Mandola Portal. It allows citizens to submit possible online sources of illegal hate-related speech they have encounter for further investigation by specialised assistance services or/and law enforcement. It presents a map of Europe with organisations (either police departments or hotlines, or other non-profit organisations) in 14 different countries where citizens can report online hate speech incidents. Users can report URLs that contain hate speech even anonymously by keeping their personal details secret. When a user clicks on a country, the organisation that accepts reports for online hate speech appears. The Mandola reporting portal is available at http://mandola-project.eu/portal/report.html.

Besides the technological solutions, under the Mandola project were released several in-depth analyses covering different aspects of online hate speech:

·      Definition of Illegal Hatred and Implications,

·      Identification and Analysis of the Legal and Ethical Framework,

·      Privacy Impact Assessment of the MANDOLA outcomes(including recommendations for future developers of the smartphone app and of the monitoring dashboard),

·      FAQ on Responding to on-line hate speech,

·      Best Practice Guide for Responding to Online Hate Speech for Internet Industry,

·      Landscape and Gap Analysis.

 

A workshop for the industry and two Advisory Boards were conducted during the project implementation.

Information about all the released documents and conducted events is available at http://mandola-project.eu/publications.

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About the project:

MANDOLA (Monitoring ANd Detecting OnLine hAte speech) is a 24-months project (October 2015 - September 2017), co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Commission. The project is led by the project coordinator FORTH (Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas) in a consortium with Aconite Internet Solutions (Ireland), the International Cyber Investigation Training Academy (Bulgaria), Inthemis (France), the Autonomous University of Madrid (Spain), the University of Cyprus (Cyprus) and the University of Montpellier (France). MANDOLA aims at improving the public understanding of how online hate speech prevails and spreads. The project also aims at empowering ordinary citizens to report hate speech.

MANDOLA website