March 20, 2019 By

Artificial intelligence has turned into a surprising, but effective ally in the fight against cyberbullying, a phenomenon that primarily involves teenagers.
While Internet has always been an ambivalent tool, the rise of social media over the last decade has reinforced its dangers: sharing knowledge and opinion has become easier, but so has the intrusion of potentially negative elements for teenagers. While Jean-Paul Sartre never had a smartphone or the Internet, his phrase “hell is other people”1 has taken on a new dimension in these times of over-connection.

In France, emergency phone numbers were set up to specifically combat this phenomenon. Research in AI has engaged with this problem through the European project Creep, which targets schools in the Italian province of Trento as a use case scenario. Coordinated by the Italian research center Fondazione Bruno Kessler, and funded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology, Creep brings together members from the University of Trento, the CNRS, Université de la Côte d’Azur, as well as the company ExpertSystem and the German start-up Neuronation. It has developed technological tools to combat cyberbullying, with solutions based on artificial intelligence in particular.

UNESCO, the United Nations agency that promotes education and culture, estimates that overall school harassment, not solely limited to its digital version, involved 246 million minors in 2017. Between 2010 and 2014, the proportion of young people between the ages of 9 and 16 who were exposed to cyberbullying rose from 8 to 12%, with only 10% of them informing their parents. The French Ministry of National Education considers cyberbullying a situation in which a victim suffers at least one attack per week for a month. In France, the percentage of teenagers indicating they have already been victims rose to 12.5%.