Hate crime seems to be a recurring feature of 2017. Terrorism and issues with equality have infiltrated social media. Given this pattern, Google News Lab has teamed up with ProPublica, an independent journalism platform, to track the coverage of these crimes across the internet.
The software, called the Documenting Hate News Index, is a machine-learning based tool. It lists media reports from Google News. Topics include hate crime, racism and discrimination. Data from February 2017 is accessible on the site, in chronological order from newest to oldest.
Information is also sorted using a frequency algorithm. The tool collects the most used keywords and presents them in a cloud for users to sort through. The larger the font, the more mentions a particular keyword has. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump has earned himself a spot at the top of the list.
The index collects results from Google News. The text is then filtered through a language analysis. It extracts information about geographic location and context. Relevant content is extracted, updated and added to the database every day. Given that earlier this year, Google Maps was revealed to be tracking our location even when our data was off. Tracking crime is a much more needed, and ethical venture.
Google called the project a ‘starting point’ for both the study and documentation of hate crime. Although offences at the federal level are required to be reported, lower levels of government and law enforcement seem to struggle to report hate crime issues.
At this stage, hate crime news will only be tracked across America – but it’s a start.