The anti-social network: tracking the trolls

Reblogged from Lancaster University’s STEPS magazine, Summer 2015, p13-14.

A team from Lancaster University led by Dr Claire Hardaker has produced a cutting-edge tool that could help to pinpoint cyberbullies, trolls, and even radicalising groups on busy social networks such as Twitter. Dr Hardaker, a lecturer in forensic corpus linguistics, began an ESRC-funded project researching abusive behavior on Twitter in December 2013.

The project quickly demonstrated that whilst tackling antisocial online behavior is of key importance, sites like Twitter produce data at such high volumes that simply trying to identify relevant messages in amongst all the irrelevant ones is a huge challenge by itself. However, less than a year into the project, Hardaker and her team were invited to Twitter’s London headquarters to present findings from the project to Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, and Twitter itself, and the results of this research subsequently encouraged Twitter to update its policy on abusive online behavior. Continue reading