Preventing Online Harassment on Social Media through Reflective System Designs: A Self-Awareness Perspective

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    As online harassment has become epidemic on social media with serious negative consequences to individuals and society, platform providers are facing public pressures to mitigate online harassment and maintain a healthy online environment for their users. Educators and government agencies also request platform providers to implement digital safety plans for preventing online harassment on their platforms. While we witness an increasing academic interest in online harassment prevention, prior literature has largely focused on training, community involvement and parental responsibilities. Online harassment on social media is a technology-mediated phenomenon, empirical evidence on the role of technology in preventing online harassment is largely lacking. Thus, it is timely and important for researchers and platform providers to investigate technology-based prevention strategies for online harassment on social media.

    Prior studies suggested that self-awareness is a powerful disinhibitor of aggressive behaviors. However, less is known about how social media features alter users’ self- awareness and promote aggressive behaviors on social media platforms. Further, there is no theory-driven research examining how technological features can be incorporated in platform design in order to prevent online harassment on social media. Thus, our project aims to design and assess technology-based prevention strategies for online harassment on social media. With the guidance of self-awareness theory and reflective system design principles, we will conduct three studies. In Study 1, we will identify social media features that affect users’ self-awareness on their online behaviors on social media platforms using a focus group study; in Study 2, we will examine how reflective system designs alter self-awareness using an online scenario-based study; and in Study 3, we will test the designs and effects of a mobile application incorporating the reflective system design for preventing online harassment on social media using a field experiment study.

    Our proposed project is a response to the call for more theory-based research on the emerging societal issues associated with technology use. This proposed project advances the literature by (1) incorporating self-awareness theory to online harassment research; (2) using reflective system design principles to guide our investigation of the role of technology in preventing online harassment; and (3) empirically testing the effectiveness of reflective system design principles in online harassment prevention. Finally, the lessons learnt from this project will offer courses of action and guidelines for implementing preventive measures to mitigate online harassment on social media.
    Effective start/end date1/01/2130/06/23


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