The use of hate speech to dehumanize people is widely recognized as one of the first steps towards genocide. From Rwanda, where Hutu radio stations blared out propaganda referring to Tutsis as “cockroaches,” to Nazi Germany, where Jews were likened to a disease that needed to be cleansed from society, hate speech has been a clear warning sign of terrible things to come.
Hatebase, a new crowdsourced database of multilingual hate speech from The Sentinel Project, is an attempt to create a repository of words and phrases that researchers can use to detect the early stages of genocide.
“How many people outside of Sri Lanka know that ‘sakkiliya’ is a Sinhala term used to refer to a Tamil person as ‘a very unhygienic or uncultured person’,” Christopher Tuckwood, executive director of The Sentinel Project, told Wired.co.uk. “Hatebase helps us to know what to look for and to make sense of what we see.”