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Understanding cyberbullying behaviours through computational models

Cyberbullying and trolling became one of the major risks to the social and emotional dimensions of well-being as people’s lives move to cyberspaces over the world.  According to Young et al. (2017), 15% to 41% of adolescents have experiences of committing cyberbullying behaviour during their lifetime. Cyberbullying is reported to induce depression, self-harming behaviours, and even committing suicide.

Despite the importance of the phenomena, we still do not fully understand how organised cyberbullying unfolds in online communities via interactions among different participants over time.

One of the main streams of cyberbullying studies is detecting the behaviour based on text mining methods, which use a predefined dictionary to identify posted articles that contain cyberbullying related words. Those methods have limitations in identifying social dynamics of cyberbullying behaviours including sub-group relational networks of members who are participating in the behaviours; the evolution of the relational networks; and any patterns of interactions in committing organised cyberbullying.

By adopting computational process mining techniques, we can identify patterns of event sequences that occur in organised cyberbullying processes. This is to overcome methodological limitations of traditional OC studies that use a relatively small amount of visible data sets such as posts and comments on OC studies or official education programs and feedback documents from OC members.

The collaboration between Brunel University London and Yonsei University (YSU) in South Korea aims at exploring the feasibility of applying computational methods based on critical realism to identifying generative mechanisms of organised cyberbullying in OCs via knowledge exchange and training activities between Brunel and YSU.

The specific objectives of the collaboration program include:

  1. to develop a joint large grant proposal with regards to organised cyberbullying in online communities by addressing three research questions via a scoping study
  2. to train at least 10 early-stage researchers (ESRs) on related research methods including computational process analytics, critical realism, community care, and case studies via four on-site workshops; and
  3. to exchange knowledge on cyberbullying via monthly joint seminars.

The outcomes from this collaboration will shed a light on the direction of research in the area. The collaboration with South Korean partner, YSU, is pivotal as South Korea has been leading in creating and experimenting with new digital cultures in OCs based on its world-leading ICT infrastructure. The popularity of OCs, on the other hand, saw a large number of accidents related to cyberbullying. For example, New York Times reports the increased number of cyberbullying cases during COVID19 pandemic in South Korea.

The project team members of YSU established the internationally-renowned Barun (meaning “righteous”) Information and Communication Technology (ICT) research centre that aims to cultivate righteous social values related to ICT and provide stakeholders with policy guidelines for safe and sustainable use of ICT. They have been actively working on social media and cyberbullying in the past years. On the other hand, Brunel's team accumulated experience in applying computational methods for developing process theories, digital business analytics as well as community care.

Read more about cyberbullying and our studies of the phenomenon

Habin Lee working on the project in Bulgaria
Habin Lee presenting the findings in an EU meeting
Habin Less with the partners' team

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Related Research Group(s)

Operations and Information Systems Management

Operations and Information Systems Management - We specialize in responsible and sustainable operation management exploring information systems, operations research, management science, and general management and strategic management knowledge and approaches across public and private industry sectors


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Project last modified 03/02/2022