Exploring the Spatiotemporal Pattern of Cyberbullying with Yik Yak

Liu, Chengbi; Siu, Daniel
The Professional Geographer

Cyberbullying is an emerging social issue along with the prevalence of social media. Previous studies have used extensive surveys or firsthand data primarily from conventional social networksFootnote1 (e.g., Twitter) to study cyberbullying, which often ignores the factor of anonymity and location. Considering the sensitive nature and contagious effect of cyberbullying, a better understanding of the spatiotemporal pattern in cyberbullying is sorely needed to develop effective policies to combat this toxic social behavior. Grounded in the dramaturgy theory and the emerging literature on technoself, this study aims to compare cyberbullying in the anonymous social media (Yik Yak) with the conventional social media (Twitter) and explore its spatiotemporal patterns. A support vector machine is used to help identify records with bullying content. Average nearest neighbor, kernel density, and Ripley's K-function are used to explore the spatiotemporal patterns of cyberbullying behavior. We have found that cyberbullying is more likely to occur in anonymous than conventional social media. We also detected a clustering pattern corresponding to the student population, which can be explained by the dramaturgy theory and recent studies on technoself. In addition to making suggestions to help reduce cyberbullying in the future, this article also sheds light on the need for future studies.