Adversarial Training for Satire Detection: Controlling for Confounding Variables


The automatic detection of satire vs. regular news is relevant for downstream applications (for instance, knowledge base population) and to improve the understanding of linguistic characteristics of satire. Recent approaches build upon corpora which have been labeled automatically based on article sources. We hypothesize that this encourages the models to learn characteristics for different publication sources (e.g., “The Onion” vs. “The Guardian”) rather than characteristics of satire, leading to poor generalization performance to unseen publication sources. We therefore propose a novel model for satire detection with an adversarial component to control for the confounding variable of publication source. On a large novel data set collected from German news (which we make available to the research community), we observe comparable satire classification performance and, as desired, a considerable drop in publication classification performance with adversarial training. Our analysis shows that the adversarial component is crucial for the model to learn to pay attention to linguistic properties of satire.

Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, Volume 1 (Long and Short Papers)