This paper explains the capabilities and limitations of tools for analyzing the text of social media posts and other online content. It is intended to help policymakers understand and evaluate available tools and the potential consequences of using them, and focuses specifically on the use of natural language processing (NLP) tools for analyzing the text of social media posts.
One of the biggest technology policy debates in Europe this year is around the question of how societies should respond to a variety of online speech issues. Terrorist content, hate speech, copyright infringement, and ‘fake news’ – however defined – are key topics. These issues certainly warrant attention from policymakers, the companies that host the speech, and society at large. But the direction these policy responses are taking raises serious concerns about censorship and free expression.
FISA Section 702 is nearing its expiration, and Congress should reform the law to protect Americans from warrantless surveillance. While the push to reform this law has emphasized the danger this poses to the rights of all Americans, FBI access to 702 data poses particular risk to journalists, immigrant communities, human rights activists, and civil rights activists who likely communicate frequently with foreigners. A recent FBI report on “Black Identity Extremists” (BIEs) suggests that black civil rights activists will be targeted for surveillance, which will include the FBI leveraging its access to Section 702 data.
It’s no exaggeration to say the US election ecosystem faces a number of challenges in the wake of the 2016 election cycle. We learned of new threats from disinformation campaigns, to attacks on state voter registration websites, to direct attacks on election officials themselves. While the philanthropic sector has been very active from grants to organizations to funding deep academic analysis of threats to the election system, the private sector has been slower to recognize the important role they can play to help better protect US elections. That is changing, particularly with the launch of Cloudflare’s Athenian Project, which will provide free-of-charge protection and content distribution for official election websites.