Communication professors developing tools to tackle online abuse

Wendy Chun Professor | Canada 150 Research Chair
Ahmed Al-Rawi | Professor

The development of new artificial intelligence (AI) tools will soon help tackle the growing culture of abuse and hate online.

As part of a new project announced by the Canada-UK Artificial Intelligence Initiative and the Canadian and UK governments, Simon Fraser University Canada 150 Research Chair Wendy Chun and assistant professor Ahmed Al-Rawi are developing new artificial intelligence technology that can be used to tackle abuse and hate online.

In collaboration with researchers from the University of Sheffield, Chun and Al-Rawi will look at hate speech in two areas: the gaming industry and politicians on social media. As co-investigator, Al-Rawi says the development of new machines learning techniques can help us better identify and analyze abusive language online.

Chun, who established the Digital Democracies Group to combat abusive language and discriminatory algorithms, is looking forward to the collaboration and the opportunity to train new researchers.

“The new funding supports junior researchers and graduate students,” says Chun. “It helps train a new generation of researchers to work in this field.”

Al-Rawi adds that this announcement is an important step to shine a light on groups who are impacted by abuse and hate online.

“There are often trolling attacks directed at visible minorities in order to silence them which could have direct or indirect adverse effects on our democracy,” he says.

Chun says the world is in a very difficult place right now; we need creative solutions that work across disciplines and sectors to take this on.