MSCA ELITE-S Fellow
Dublin City University
I have been working as a postdoctoral researcher studying children’s digital media use since 2015. I received a PhD in Communication from American University in Washington DC in 2015. From 2015 until 2019, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Media and Communication at the University of Oslo in Norway.
Since July 2019, I have been employed at the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre (ABC) at the DCU Institute of Education. On August 1st 2020, I started as a research fellow (Elite-S postdoctoral fellowship), jointly appointed with ABC and ADAPT. I have published on the topic of cyberbullying and the cyberbullying policies of social media companies, most notably a monograph Protecting Children Online? Cyberbullying Policies of Social Media Companies (MIT Press, 2018), among journal publications and chapters.
I am a managing editor of the International Journal of Bullying Prevention, where I am currently accepting manuscripts for a special issue: The Use of Artificial Intelligence to Address Online Bullying and Abuse. My upcoming research as part of the Elite-S fellowship will examine Artificial Intelligence-based proactive moderation of cyberbullying on social media platforms. I am also currently the co-PI on a Facebook-funded project that examines children’s views about the effectiveness of a natural language processing-based tool for detecting cyberbullying on social media platforms. My research is closely linked with informing policy and regulatory efforts. Together with Prof. James O’Higgins Norman, I represent ABC at the National Advisory Council for Online Safety (NACOS).
OSAIBI (Open Standards for AI-based Bullying Interventions) aims to create standards for proactive anti-bullying interventions on social media platforms by soliciting children’s feedback as to the effectiveness of these interventions; and as to their impact on children’s rights to safety, privacy and freedom of expression.
Bullying and harassment on social media platforms are difficult to define and operationalise and there is little agreement within the academic community regarding these phenomena. It is particularly challenging for social media platforms to design effective reactive let alone proactive moderation of such behaviours. Proactive moderation, which involves the application of various content analysis tools, can prove very difficult where it involves the automatic detection of bullying and harassment.
These behaviours are not always overt and are often ambiguous, containing irony or sarcasm. Effective automatic detection of bullying and harassment requires processing not only subtle and often ambiguous linguistic context, but perhaps most importantly, external pragmatics including cultural context. While there is a significant amount of research on algorithm optimisation both from inside and outside of the industry, it is not yet a common practice to solicit and incorporate children’s feedback as to the functioning of these models.
Ensuring children’s feedback and opinions on matters than concern them is a provision of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and this principle directly applies to co-design and co-creation of technologies that have implications for children’s wellbeing. Building on applicant’s existing project with Facebook, OSAIBI will: 1. Map social media companies’ proactive responses to bullying that rely on natural language processing (NLP), machine learning and artificial intelligence. 2. Leverage qualitative research with children to examine how effective these proactive tools are from the perspective of children who have experienced bullying. 3. Develop a typology as precursor to ontology based automatic classification of bullying cases that take place on popular social media platforms and that can be particularly difficult to detect by proactive tools. 4. Leverage quantitative study with children to examine how they perceive their rights to privacy and freedom of expression in the context of proactive monitoring.
OSAIBI will therefore facilitate transparent social media design that supports children’s wellbeing and embed children’s voices into this design in order to ensure that the proposed solutions are effective from children’s perspective.