Canterbury University student wins prestigious scholarship, US trip for detecting hate speech using AI

Canterbury University student wins prestigious scholarship, US trip for detecting hate speech using AI

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Pallavi Pathak
Assistant Manager Content
New Delhi, Updated on Jul 11, 2024 17:05 IST

His research on detecting hate speech on social media uses AI tools to find out how these digital groups get created on social media platforms with a focus on hate speech.

Canterbury University student wins prestigious scholarship, US trip for detecting hate speech using AI

Study in New Zealand: Linguistics PhD student of the University of Canterbury (UC) Sidney Wong is one of 15 recipients of the prestigious Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Awards in 2024. As part of this award, he will travel to the University of Illinois in the US to advance his findings at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Illinois.

His research involved harnessing natural language processing - a branch of AI through which computers generate, understand and manipulate human language to find hate speech on social media platforms. Sidney Wong's interest came from his work on diverse and marginalised groups as a community advocate.

Commenting on this award, he said, “In both my roles as a researcher and as an advocate embedded as co-chair of the Ōtautahi-based Qtopia and chair of the Ethnic Rainbow Alliance, I see an urgent need to monitor the proliferation of hate speech. With these insights, we can work together with communities, policy makers, and researchers to develop prevention strategies to ensure the safety of our communities.”

“As a computational sociolinguist, I study the relationship between language and society. By determining how these digital communities develop, we can also pinpoint the motivators of hateful behavior," he added.

Sidney Wong described receiving the scholarship as a surreal opportunity for his development in academics and professionally. At the University of Illinois at Urbana, Wong will get to work with an expert in natural language processing and computational linguistics Associate Professor Dr Jonathan Dunn, who was previously a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics at UC.  

Christchurch mosque attack incidents also encouraged him for this research

There were two consecutive mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March 2019. Wong was born in Lower Hutt, has Cantonese ancestry, and lives in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

“When I reflect on my identity, it has undoubtedly been influenced by my experience of previously being ‘in the closet’ as a person who is both an ethnic minority and part of the Rainbow community in Aotearoa,” he says.

Wong said that after the Christchurch mosque attacks, awareness increased about the role of social media platforms in spreading disinformation, misinformation and hate speech towards marginalized people.

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Pallavi Pathak
Assistant Manager Content

With over 11 years of dedicated experience in the field of Study Abroad consulting and writing, Pallavi Pathak stands as a seasoned expert in providing compelling news articles and informative pieces tailored to the... Read Full Bio

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