Can data analytics and machine learning prevent cyberbullying?

data analytics and machine learning prevent cyberbullying

The internet is one of the most influential and important innovations of humankind. 

Since its inception in the 1990s, the web has made fundamental changes to the way we run our businesses, make payments, and even seek medical treatment.

The impact of the internet weighs heavily on our daily lives too. We depend on it for everything from consuming entertainment to getting our daily dose of news. There is nowhere better to gauge the impact of the internet than the way we communicate and interact with our social circle.

With Gen Zs growing up and relying exclusively on the internet to communicate with their peers, family, and friends and with the availability of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and Instagram, our communication landscape is richer than ever.

Unfortunately, it’s not all a rosy picture. While these communication platforms are immensely important and useful, they are clouded by rampant cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is becoming more prevalent among the younger generation on all social media platforms as well as other online forms of communication and idea-sharing like YouTube, Reddit, and Quora.

In fact, studies show that more than half of all teenagers become victims of cyberbullying, and almost as many teenagers participate in the practice. 

This issue can be resolved with the power of data analytics and artificial intelligence. Let’s explore how.

Data analytics powers improved social media policing

While cyberbullying has been reported on all internet-powered communication platforms, certain platforms are more susceptible to these kinds of incidents compared to others.

Twitter and Facebook, for example, have some of the highest rates of cyberbullying across all platforms. Specific chat groups and online communities also report a high number of incidents, and are now known as cyberbullying hotspots.

Fortunately, all these communication and opinion sharing spaces have options to report cyberbullying. The hundreds and thousands of cases reported each day allow social media companies to create a visual representation of bullying hotspots with the power of data analytics.

Once these hotspots have been identified, social media policing teams can be deployed to these spaces virtually to prevent bullying and take certain steps to block, ban and hold perpetrators accountable.

AI can help us predict cyberbullying

Studies reveal that individuals who are likely to participate in cyberbullying will show certain signs of behaviour on social media platforms through their posts and comments. The research concludes that monitoring precursors to cyberbullying can help internet companies take a more proactive approach towards preventing the practice. 

With more than three billion active users, however, monitoring online behaviour at all times is not a possibility with traditional data analytics.

The good news is that modern advancements in big data have helped create sophisticated AI speech recognition systems that can identify nuances in written speech.

These machine learning tools detect abusive and damaging online behaviour and alert authorities. This not only helps ensure the safety of likely victims but also helps rehabilitate potential cyber bullies.

AI can help us censor abusive comments, opinions and posts

Cyberbullying takes many forms and in the age of misinformation, even news articles and videos can be used to bully entire factions of the online community. 

Traditionally, social media companies have used manual content moderation to censor offensive content. Manual content moderation, however, is time-consuming and unreliable owing to human biases and errors.

Most platforms are now using algorithms powered by AI to detect and censor abusive content. This ensures potential attempts at cyberbullying can be thwarted before it causes serious harm.

Cyberbullying in all forms can be prevented with the power of data analytics and AI

In this day and age, the internet impacts every single action, including how we communicate with others. Although social media platforms allow us to communicate and stay connected with the people around us, they can be home to harmful phenomena like cyberbullying too.

Fortunately, with advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence, we’re one step closer to making the internet a safer and healthier space for users.

Ari Vivekanandarajah

Ari Vivekanandarajah

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