This ex-NSA hacker is hunting white supremacists and hate groups lurking on Twitter

  • In 2016, researchers found more than 900 hate groups operating in the US, with over 100 of them having a presence on Twitter.
  • Twitter has declared a ban on them and last month the purge began. But Twitter also got heat for doing it wrong when it banned a satire site.
  • Ex-NSA analyst Emily Crose has been single-handedly trying to make this problem easier to solve by developing an AI system that identifies "dog whistle" images.

Twitter and Facebook say hate speech is a violation of their policies but they also say it can be hard to identify who is engaged in bona fide hate speech and who isn't.

Twitter demonstrated the problem earlier this week when it came under fire for blocking a German satirical magazine’s Twitter account after it parodied anti-Muslim comments.

18 PHOTOS
White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
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White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protesters direct obscene gestures towards members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in support of Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters shout at members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A counter-protester is detained as members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police detain a counter-protester during the aftermath of a rally by members of the Ku Klux Klan in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters help a man affected by pepper gas as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, such as the statue of General Stonewall Jackson above them, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan, standing near a tomato and and an orange that had been thrown at them by counter-protesters, hold a sign as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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Enter Emily Crose, a former NSA analyst, cybersecurity professional and former Reddit moderator.

Crose was appalled by the neo nazi marchers at Charlottesville, Virginia, and the violence that killed three people and injured dozens more. One of the people attacked and injured was Crose's friend.

So she's taken it upon herself to develop a technology she calls Nemisis. It uses artificial intelligence to identify white nationalists by scanning the pictures and videos they post. Nemisis is looking for the symbols they use to identify themselves, their so called "dog whistles." These might include neo-Confederate flags or certain takes on Pepe the frog.

Her goal with NEMESIS is to help educate people but also to show social media sites how they can find white supremacists and "enforce some decency on their own platforms," she told Motherboard's Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai.

Crose explained to Business Insider that the idea for the tech didn't come directly from her work at the NSA. "What I did for Nemesis I had to learn entirely on my own."

She used TensorFlow to train her app to spot the images, a popular free and open source AI development technology created by Google.

50 PHOTOS
The most violent states by homicide ranking
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The most violent states by homicide ranking

Hawaii: no data

(Photo via Getty Images)

1. Least homicidal - New Hampshire

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 1.23
2015: 0.96

(Photo via Getty Images)

2. Rhode Island

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.24
2015: 0.99

(Photo via Shutterstock)

3. Maine

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: no data
2015: 1.14

(Photo via Getty Images)

4. Massachusetts

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.18
2015: 1.26

(Photo via Getty Images)

5. Utah

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 1.64
2015: 1.29

(Photo via Getty Images)

6. Idaho

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 1.14
2015: 1.29

(Photo via Getty Images)

7. Iowa

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 1.44
2015: 1.62

(Photo via Getty Images)

8. North Dakota

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: no data
2015: 1.69

(Photo via Getty Images)

9. Vermont

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.35
2015: 1.76

(Photo via Getty Images)

10. Minnesota

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 1.45
2015: 1.77

(Photo via Getty Images)

11. South Dakota

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: no data
2015: 1.97

(Photo via Getty Images)

12. New York

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 9.57
2015: 2.07

(Photo via Getty Images)

13. Wyoming

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.27
2015: 2.16

(Photo via Getty Images)

14. Montana

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.52
2015: 2.17

(Photo via Getty Images)

15. Washington

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.39
2015: 2.32

(Photo via Getty Images)

16. Oregon

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 1.96
2015: 2.35

(Photo via Getty Images)

17. Connecticut

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 3.63
2015: 2.43

(Photo via Getty Images)

18. Colorado

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.94
2015: 2.46

(Photo via Getty Images)

19. Nebraska

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 1.93
2015: 2.67

(Photo via Getty Images)

20. West Virginia

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 4.62
2015: 2.89

(Photo via Getty Images)

21. Wisconsin

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.75
2015: 3.18

(Photo via Getty Images)

22. New Jersey

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.84
2015: 3.22

(Photo via Getty Images)

23. Virginia

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 5.54
2015: 3.29

(Photo via Getty Images)

24. Kansas

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 3.81
2015: 3.35

(Photo via Getty Images)

25. California

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 8.74
2015: 3.52

(Photo via Getty Images)

49. Louisiana

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 13.49
2015: 9.96

(Photo via Getty Images)

26. Arizona

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 5.57
2015: 3.56

(Photo via Getty Images)

27. Kentucky

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 4.59
2015: 3.96

(Photo via Getty Images)

28. Texas

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 10.43
2015: 4.04

(Photo via Getty Images)

29. Pennsylvania

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 3.88
2015: 4.34

(Photo via Getty Images)

30. Ohio

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 3.89
2015: 4.38

(Photo via Getty Images)

31. Nevada

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 7.15
2015: 4.49

(Photo via Getty Images)

32. North Carolina

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 8.25
2015: 4.54

(Photo via Getty Images)

33. Indiana

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 4.16
2015: 4.61

(Photo via Getty Images)

34. Florida

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 7.35
2015: 4.66

(Photo via Getty Images)

35. Michigan

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 7.95
2015: 4.74

(Photo via Getty Images)

36. New Mexico

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 5.34
2015: 4.79

(Photo via Getty Images)

37. Alaska

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.84
2015: 5.22

(Photo via Getty Images)

38. Arkansas

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 8.48
2015: 5.34

(Photo via Getty Images)

39. Illinois

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 7.91
2015: 5.45

(Photo via Getty Images)

40. Tennessee

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 7.69
2015: 5.71

(Photo via Getty Images)

41. Georgia

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 9.01
2015: 5.73

(Photo via Getty Images)

42. Oklahoma

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 4.90
2015: 5.87

(Photo via Getty Images)

43. Delaware

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 2.15
2015: 6.12

(Photo via Getty Images)

44. South Carolina

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 7.34
2015: 7.55

(Photo via Getty Images)

45. Maryland

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 8.07
2015: 7.69

(Photo via Getty Images)

46. Alabama

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 9.90
2015: 8.43

(Photo via Getty Images)

47. Missouri

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 7.54
2015: 7.92

(Photo via Getty Images)

48. Mississippi

Firearm-homicide rate: 
1991: 10.33
2015: 9.11

(Photo via Getty Images)

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"I'm currently working on porting the beta system to a production system that we can then run on a front end with Twitter," she tells us.

In other words, she's just about ready to use her homemade tool to go hunting for white supremacists on Twitter.

"If I can do this as an individual with few resources, @TwitterSafety should be able to do this easily. The question is, why haven't they?" she said in a tweet.

Last month, Twitter proved that it was getting serious about the problem, although it remains to be seen how well it will be able to root out hate groups and keep them from coming back. Twitter did begin suspending accounts on December 18, dubbed the #twitterpurge.

Perhaps Nemesis will inspire Twitter to do more. Here's a peek at how it works from a video Crose posted on Twitter.

 

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