SOLIHULL students are helping scientists examine how social media can be used to spread negative content.
Pupils at St Peter’s Catholic School have teamed up with academics from the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science to help research how social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can rapidly spread provocative content.
These so-called ‘digital wildfires’ can see rumours, false information, hate speech or malicious campaigns against others spread quickly amongst other social media users and have led to questions over the regulation of social media for school children.
As part of Oxford University’s Digital Wildfires project, the research team and students are trying to identify forms of ‘self-governance’ – where social media users manager their own and others’ online behaviour – and how they could limit damage caused by digital wildfires.
Professor Marina Jirotka, the primary investigator on the project, said: “The basis for our work with schools is that young people are a particularly vulnerable group on social media.
“They are vulnerable to harm from others, cyberbullying for example, and also vulnerable to causing harm – for example by posting content they may later regret.”
Staff at St Peter’s Catholic School, off Whitefields Road, regard e-safety as an important aspect of their safeguarding role – holding a number of accreditations in e-safety.
Head Teacher Marie Murphy said: “We see e-safety as a vital aspect of our safeguarding and are delighted that students from our school have been able to take part in this Oxford University research project.”
More about the project can be found online at http://www.digitalwildfire.org