A Legal Approach to Hate Speech – Operationalizing the EU’s Legal Framework against the Expression of Hatred as an NLP TaskDownload PDF


May 16, 2021 (edited Jun 23, 2021)ACL ARR 2021 May Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
  • Abstract: We propose a 'legal approach' to hate speech detection by operationalization of the decision as to whether a post is subject to criminal law into an NLP task. Comparing existing regulatory regimes for hate speech, we base our investigation on the European Union's framework as it provides a widely applicable legal minimum standard. Accurately judging whether a post is punishable or not usually requires legal training. We show that, by breaking the legal assessment down into a series of simpler sub-decisions, even laypersons can annotate consistently. Based on a newly annotated dataset, our experiments show that directly learning an automated model of punishable content is challenging. However, learning the two sub-tasks of `target group' and `targeting conduct' instead of an end-to-end approach to punishability yields better results. Overall, our method also provides for better explainability and higher transparency, which is a crucial point in legal decision-making.
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