Exploring Boundaries and Intensities in Offensive and Hate Speech: Unveiling the Complex Spectrum of Social Media Discourse

Abinew Ali Ayele, Esubalew Alemneh Jalew, Adem Chanie Ali,Seid Muhie Yimam,Chris Biemann


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The prevalence of digital media and evolving sociopolitical dynamics have significantly amplified the dissemination of hateful content. Existing studies mainly focus on classifying texts into binary categories, often overlooking the continuous spectrum of offensiveness and hatefulness inherent in the text. In this research, we present an extensive benchmark dataset for Amharic, comprising 8,258 tweets annotated for three distinct tasks: category classification, identification of hate targets, and rating offensiveness and hatefulness intensities. Our study highlights that a considerable majority of tweets belong to the less offensive and less hate intensity levels, underscoring the need for early interventions by stakeholders. The prevalence of ethnic and political hatred targets, with significant overlaps in our dataset, emphasizes the complex relationships within Ethiopia's sociopolitical landscape. We build classification and regression models and investigate the efficacy of models in handling these tasks. Our results reveal that hate and offensive speech can not be addressed by a simplistic binary classification, instead manifesting as variables across a continuous range of values. The Afro-XLMR-large model exhibits the best performances achieving F1-scores of 75.30 respectively. The 80.22 indicates strong alignments.
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