Machine Learning and Lexicon Approach to Texts Processing in the Detection of Degrees of Toxicity in Online Discussions

Sensors (Basel). 2022 Aug 27;22(17):6468. doi: 10.3390/s22176468.


This article focuses on the problem of detecting toxicity in online discussions. Toxicity is currently a serious problem when people are largely influenced by opinions on social networks. We offer a solution based on classification models using machine learning methods to classify short texts on social networks into multiple degrees of toxicity. The classification models used both classic methods of machine learning, such as naïve Bayes and SVM (support vector machine) as well ensemble methods, such as bagging and RF (random forest). The models were created using text data, which we extracted from social networks in the Slovak language. The labelling of our dataset of short texts into multiple classes-the degrees of toxicity-was provided automatically by our method based on the lexicon approach to texts processing. This lexicon method required creating a dictionary of toxic words in the Slovak language, which is another contribution of the work. Finally, an application was created based on the learned machine learning models, which can be used to detect the degree of toxicity of new social network comments as well as for experimentation with various machine learning methods. We achieved the best results using an SVM-average value of accuracy = 0.89 and F1 = 0.79. This model also outperformed the ensemble learning by the RF and Bagging methods; however, the ensemble learning methods achieved better results than the naïve Bayes method.

Keywords: detection of degrees of toxicity; lexicon approach; machine learning; text data processing; web mining.

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning*
  • Support Vector Machine*