"And We Will Fight For Our Race!'" A Measurement Study of Genetic Testing Conversations on Reddit and 4chan

by   Alexandros Mittos, et al.

Rapid progress in genomics has enabled a thriving market for "direct-to-consumer" genetic testing, whereby people have access to their genetic information without the involvement of a healthcare provider. Companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA, which provide affordable health, genealogy, and ancestry reports, have already tested tens of millions of customers. At the same time, alas, far-right groups have also taken an interest in genetic testing, using them to attack minorities and prove their genetic "purity." However, the relation between genetic testing and online hate has not really been studied by the scientific community. To address this gap, we present a measurement study shedding light on how genetic testing is discussed on Web communities in Reddit and 4chan. We collect 1.3M comments posted over 27 months using a set of 280 keywords related to genetic testing. We then use Latent Dirichlet Allocation, Google's Perspective API, Perceptual Hashing, and word embeddings to identify trends, themes, and topics of discussion. Our analysis shows that genetic testing is discussed frequently on Reddit and 4chan, and often includes highly toxic language expressed through hateful, racist, and misogynistic comments. In particular, on 4chan's politically incorrect board (/pol/), content from genetic testing conversations involves several alt-right personalities and openly antisemitic memes. Finally, we find that genetic testing appears in a few unexpected contexts, and that users seem to build groups ranging from technology enthusiasts to communities using it to promote fringe political views.


page 9

page 11


"23andMe confirms: I'm super white" -- Analyzing Twitter Discourse On Genetic Testing

Recent progress in genomics is bringing genetic testing to the masses, a...

Health and Kinship Matter: Learning About Direct-To-Consumer Genetic Testing User Experiences via Online Discussions

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing has gained in popularity over t...

A Quantitative Approach to Understanding Online Antisemitism

A new wave of growing antisemitism, driven by fringe Web communities, is...

Search for overlapped communities by parallel genetic algorithms

In the last decade the broad scope of complex networks has led to a rapi...

Reading In-Between the Lines: An Analysis of Dissenter

Efforts by content creators and social networks to enforce legal and pol...

Computer Security Risks of Distant Relative Matching in Consumer Genetic Databases

Consumer genetic testing has become immensely popular in recent years an...

Reading Between the Demographic Lines: Resolving Sources of Bias in Toxicity Classifiers

The censorship of toxic comments is often left to the judgment of imperf...

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset