Workshop: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better: Understanding Deep Learning Through Empirical Falsification

Spread Love Not Hate: Undermining the Importance of Hateful Pre-training for Hate Speech Detection

Omkar Gokhale · Aditya Kane · Shantanu Patankar · Tanmay Chavan · Raviraj Joshi


Pre-training large neural language models, such as BERT, has led to impressive gains on many natural language processing (NLP) tasks. Although this method has proven to be effective for many domains, it might not always provide desirable benefits. In this paper we study the effects of hateful pre-training on low resource hate speech classification tasks. While previous studies on English language have emphasized its importance, we aim to to augment their observations with some non-obvious insights. We evaluate different variations of tweet based BERT models pre-trained on hateful, non-hateful and mixed subsets of 40M tweet dataset. This evaluation is carried for Indian languages Hindi and Marathi. This paper is an empirical evidence that hateful pre-training is not the best pre-training option for hate speech detection. We show that pre-training on non-hateful text from target domain provides similar or better results. Further, we introduce HindTweetBERT and MahaTweetBERT, the first publicly available BERT models pre-trained on Hindi and Marathi tweets respectively. We show that they provide state-of-the-art performance on hate speech classification tasks. We also release a gold hate speech evaluation benchmark HateEval-Hi and HateEval-Mr consisting of manually labeled 2000 tweets each.

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