Character-level HyperNetworks for Hate Speech Detection

Tomer Wullach, Amir Adler, Einat Minkov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The massive spread of hate speech, hateful content targeted at specific subpopulations, is a problem of critical social importance. Automated methods of hate speech detection typically employ state-of-the-art deep learning (DL)-based text classifiers—large pretrained neural language models of over 100 million parameters, adapting these models to the task of hate speech detection using relevant labeled datasets. Unfortunately, there are only a few public labeled datasets of limited size that are available for this purpose. We make several contributions with high potential for advancing this state of affairs. We present HyperNetworks for hate speech detection, a special class of DL networks whose weights are regulated by a small-scale auxiliary network. These architectures operate at character-level, as opposed to word or subword-level, and are several orders of magnitude smaller compared to the popular DL classifiers. We further show that training hate detection classifiers using additional large amounts of automatically generated examples is beneficial in general, yet this practice especially boosts the performance of the proposed HyperNetworks. We report the results of extensive experiments, assessing the performance of multiple neural architectures on hate detection using five public datasets. The assessed methods include the pretrained language models of BERT, RoBERTa, ALBERT, MobileBERT and CharBERT, a variant of BERT that incorporates character alongside subword embeddings. In addition to the traditional setup of within-dataset evaluation, we perform cross-dataset evaluation experiments, testing the generalization of the various models in conditions of data shift. Our results show that the proposed HyperNetworks achieve performance that is competitive, and better in some cases, than these pretrained language models, while being smaller by orders of magnitude.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117571
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Hate speech detection
  • Neural networks
  • Text generation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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