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Effective New Technologies That Detect Cyberbullying

The emergence of social media has paved ways for the rise of a varied Internet culture amongst the public. The online community has brought the entire world together with only the click of a mouse; it has brought in numerous innovations and opportunities that hold the capacity to make this world a better place.  But, it also has its misgivings; The internet has given people the means to break and diminish people. Bullying in the cyber world is as scary, obnoxious and imminent as bullying offline where one is harassed, humiliated, threatened or ‘trolled’.

To be able to control this behavior of mass hysteria among the social media users, fresh ideas are brewing in the minds of people such as students and professionals who are pursuing B Tech abroad or Engineering abroad.

Even though users often mess up most of the innovative technologies that have been introduced for effective communication, many professionals believe in the ability of computers to contain this ugly epidemic of cyberbullying. Applications like ReThink which flags harassing messages before posting them online gives the user a chance to ‘rethink’ their decision, before it goes online. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has also adopted a Machine Learning algorithm to find and ‘disarm’ potential bullies on the platforms. Facebook and Instagram now uses DeepText which uses word embedding to make the algorithm comprehend online abuse. It has the capability to accurately understand hundreds and thousands of posts every second.

The system is fed with training data that contains huge amounts of posts that comprises abusive content. These are tagged and labelled to find patterns from the inferences received from the algorithm. But the fact that the intangible nature of cyber bullying makes offenders pick social media as the preferred medium, is still bothersome. This has triggered researchers to take paths less travelled by utilizing datasets of the real world dialogues manually annotated in terms of severity and modeling it as a time series.

When a cyber-bullying campaign like GamerGate was exposed through Twitter, the world saw how ugly and nasty these experiences can be. It realised the imminent need for monitoring the content on the internet albeit the difficulty in it. BlockTogether is a web application that identifies and blocks any account that is constantly harassing users.

In a step towards containing this rapidly growing online hate, Twitter has partnered with IBM Watson, which will use its cognitive abilities to find abuse patterns and recognize content that perpetuates harassment before it has even been reported. Issues like these are most often analyzed and studied by students who conduct researches at different study abroad programs. ICAS Manipal provides opportunities for its students to do a credit transfer to a foreign university and do the last 2 years of their engineering abroad, where they could effectively take up problem statements like these.

It’s not uncommon to hear horrendous experiences about being victimised by cyberbullying and it only keeps growing. Blaming technology for our behavior online is not going to help curb the situation. By resorting to intelligent algorithms, the offenders hiding behind the shadow of their computer screens can only be silenced. But for this to work out in a way favorable to the entire public, people should shake hands with technology and be accountable for their behavior online.

Do you know of any new technology battling Cyberbullying? Tell us in the comments!

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