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Pitt And CMU Launching New Center To Fight Extremist Hate

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Pitt and CMU are joining forces on a new center to study extremist hate.

Scholars from both universities will team up through the Collaboratory Against Hate Research and Action Center to create tools that will stop the creation and growth of hate.

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"We have people who have been studying extremist hate for a long time looking at what are the underlying causes," said Lorrie Cranor, the director of CyLab security at CMU. "What causes people to get involved in these hate groups? What kind of messages appeal to people and make them want to join?"

Cranor is one of the leads in the initiative. The goal is to lessen and prevent extremist hate of any level and minimize its impact.

"We may be able to develop some educational materials that we can distribute to schools or parents that help intervene with children to prevent them from joining these groups," said Cranor.

Collaborators will use computer science, data science, social sciences, psychology, psychiatry and the law to try to understand and combat hatred based on prejudices.

Cranor hopes the center can speak for those who don't know how to help.

"People are getting hurt," said Cranor. "People are dying and it's something I think a lot of people would like to do something about. But it's a hard problem."

A report from the Anti-Defamation League shows in 2020, cases of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ and other hateful messages were doubled than what it was in 2019.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers understands what hate is. He witnessed it during the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. He believes extremist hate is a learned behavior, but it can also be unlearned.

"It starts at the kitchen table. You're not born with it in your genes, You're taught it," said Rabbi Myers. "If you can be taught hate speech and everything that leads to it, why can't you be taught to love?"

Rabbi Myers said there are still more good people in the world than there are bad. He believes this new center can do good work.

"I still have hope that we can make the world a better place. I haven't given up," said Myers.

Cranor says this new collaboration will develop tools for companies that would detect and shut down any hate-speech within chatrooms.

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