According to an Ipsos Reid survey in 2011, one in five Canadian teens have witnessed online bullying and more then half have had a negative experience on social networks.
Oct is anti bullying month and it’s perfect time for a group of Edmonton teens to launch their anti bullying app.
The Sentiment Keyboard – developed by Jacob Reckhard, Christopher West and Ibrahim Elmallah under the supervision of Denilson Barbosa, associate professor of computer science at the University of Alberta, is designed to detect negative language and give the sender the option to reconsider their choice of words.
“The idea was people would use it before sending a message on social media or something. You have that line to give them a little warning that what they just said might hurt somebody’s feelings,” said Reckhard.
Reckhard said the Sentiment Keyboard was created to add a layer of awareness encouraging the user to think about the impact their words might have on others. “Sometimes you type out things that you think are pretty harmless, and you don’t realize until you read it a second time that maybe I shouldn’t have said that. It just gives you a second opinion,”
The Sentiment Keyboard uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to detect negative words in written text, assigning a score based on how negative the word is. The algorithm analyzes the sentence and formulates a total negativity score. Should the sender type out a phrase or sentence that is over the app’s threshold of negativity, a warning appears alerting the author that what they are writing could be hurtful.
To develop the Sentiment Keyboard, available for download on any Android device, the teens were partnered with undergraduate and graduate students.
Barbosa said including the teenage students on the project was critical as they perhaps understand better than most the types of negative language and slang being used by cyberbullies.
“Without collaboration, you cannot get anywhere. If I were to do this by myself, I would be bias by what I think is offensive and what I think is inappropriate, it would be just me. The moment you open up and get other people to play with this and give you feedback, you get a sense of what the app really needs to do,” said Barbosa.
: ) -will