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Rutgers Gets Cyberbullying Research Help

Rutgers University research into the automatic detection of cyberbullying has a new supporter. Rsignia will be working with principal investigator Vivek Singh, an assistant professor at the institution's School of Communication and Information and a visiting professor from the MIT Media Lab on coming up with data-driven solutions for dealing with cyberbullying..

Earlier this year Singh received a $117,102 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to "advance the state of the art in cyberbullying detection." He hopes to go beyond standard efforts that use text analysis by also examining the social relationships in which the bullying messages are exchanged.

Rsignia is a security products company that has developed technology for performing real-time social media analytics.

As the NSF proposal noted, higher accuracy in detection would enable quicker intervention and could "help improve the lives of thousands of victims who are cyberbullied each year."

Using software from Rsignia, the research project will investigate whether analyzing social network features such as number of friends, network embeddedness and "relationship centrality" can improve the accuracy of cyberbullying detection. Researchers will also perform surveys, ethnography and interviews to refine detection techniques that can be automated and scaled up.

"Many times in business, the gauge for success is defined by the use of terms such as 'available markets' or 'return on investment.' However, when we are dealing with the growing crisis of our children being exposed to cyberbullying, you remove yourself from typical business benchmarks and, instead, you act when and where you can; it's a passionate call to action," said Darrell Covell, chief technology officer for Rsignia, in a prepared statement.

Rutgers was the site of an infamous cyberbullying event in 2010, in which the victim committed suicide after his dorm roommate used a webcam to capture him in a romantic scenario with another man and then joked about it on Twitter.

Rsignia has also worked on cyber-security-related research projects with the University of Central Florida and a research arm of West Virginia University.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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