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Tech-Savvy Teen Uses Artificial Intelligence to Document Antisemitic Hate Speech on Twitter

Jonah Liss. (Dianne Scafone Photography)

Using technology to help fix what is wrong in the world is Jonah Liss’ forte and he has been involved in other technology projects.

Across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, antisemitism is no stranger to American Jews. 

Jonah Liss, 18, a recent graduate of International Academy in Bloomfield Township, while scrolling through Twitter, unfortunately saw messages such as “I wish Hitler was still alive,” “Kill the Jews” and other hate directed at Jews. He then felt it was his duty to research the instances of antisemitism on Twitter.

Liss examined the issue methodically, using an artificial intelligence (AI) program he developed — and gathered data through Twitter’s application programming interface API.

API allowed Liss to scrape data using keywords over a specified time period. He could then take the data and apply it to his AI program, which can analyze aspects of text with human-like precision.

One of the applications is for “sentiment analysis,” which is primarily used for identifying the opinions expressed in a piece of text. Opinions are sorted by positive, negative or neutral language and can be very useful for recognizing hate speech. 

During the May battle between Israel and Hamas, Liss spent several days researching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “As someone with a diverse group of friends, I think it’s a very complicated issue,” he said. “Something that I found very disturbing in my research was the absurd amount of antisemitic language on Twitter.”

Liss pulled 100,000 tweets containing the words Israel, Israeli government, IDF, Jew, Jewish people and Judaism to see the relationship in rhetoric between the two groups. “What I found, unfortunately but expectedly, is that as negative language increased regarding Israel, antisemitic language also increased in general,” he said. 

Liss found in May that negative and very negative tweets about Israel outnumbered positive and very positive ones by about 23,000 to 21,000, and negative tweets about Jews outnumbered the positive by about 26,000 to 17,000.

Liss used tweets in April as a control group since the battle between Israel and Gaza unfolded in May. During the conflict, he documented an increase in negative tweets and hate about both the Israeli government and Jews in general.

Liss is a member of Temple Israel and belonged to BBYO Michigan Region. In the fall, he will attend the University of Michigan where he plans to continue his work in the social entrepreneurship world. 

Using technology to help fix what is wrong in the world is Liss’ forte and he has been involved in other technology projects. 

He is off to a fast start in the tech world. In 2020, he developed Meduimize, a software making it easier for people to shelter at home due to the pandemic to receive groceries and other essential errands. 



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