ACE Seminar: "You Know What to Do": Proactive Detection of YouTube Videos Targeted by Coordinated Hate Attacks

Speaker: Enrico Mariconti

Date/Time: 07-Nov-2019, 16:30 UTC

Venue: Drayton House B03 Ricardo LT



Video sharing platforms like YouTube are increasingly targeted by aggression and hate attacks. Prior work has shown how these attacks often take place as a result of "raids," i.e., organized efforts by ad-hoc mobs coordinating from third-party communities. Despite the increasing relevance of this phenomenon, however, online services often lack effective countermeasures to mitigate it. Unlike well-studied problems like spam and phishing, coordinated aggressive behavior both targets and is perpetrated by humans, making defense mechanisms that look for automated activity unsuitable. Therefore, the de-facto solution is to reactively rely on user reports and human moderation.

In this paper, we propose an automated solution to identify YouTube videos that are likely to be targeted by coordinated harassers from fringe communities like 4chan. First, we characterize and model YouTube videos along several axes (metadata, audio transcripts, thumbnails) based on a ground truth dataset of videos that were targeted by raids. Then, we use an ensemble of classifiers to determine the likelihood that a video will be raided with very good results (AUC up to 94%). Overall, our work provides an important first step towards deploying proactive systems to detect and mitigate coordinated hate attacks on platforms like YouTube.


Enrico Mariconti is a Lecturer of the UCL Department of Security and Crime Science. He has been part of the SECReT DTC and during his PhD he focused mainly on Malware detection. Part of his research is also studying social network related issues and criminal activities and the use of machine learning techniques and statistical tests to measure and evaluate these issues. His studies at UCL started in 2014 under the supervision of Dr Gianluca Stringhini and Dr Gordon Ross. He has a background in Telecommunication Engineering (BSc and MSc at Università degli Studi di Genova) and, as part of the DTC, an MRes in Security Science.

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