What are Cyber Social Threats

The role of online platforms as a prime, daily communication tool is coincident with a sharp rise in its misuse, threatening our society in large. These platforms have been implicated for promoting hate speech, radicalization, harassment, cyberbullying, fake news, human trafficking, drug dealing, gender-based stereotyping and violence among other ills, with a significant impact on individual and community well-being. Such content and behaviors are inherently multi-faceted, making the recognition of their narratives challenging for researchers as well as social media companies. The implications to individuals and communities require reliable models and algorithms for detecting, understanding and countering the malevolent behavior in such communications. These challenges have led to a rising prominence of analysis of online communications in academia, politics, homeland security, and industry using computational techniques from natural language processing, statistics, network science, data mining, machine learning, computational linguistics, human-computer interaction, and cognitive science. To meet these challenges, this workshop aims to stimulate research on social, cultural, emotional, communicative, and linguistic aspects of harmful conversations on online platforms and developing novel approaches to analyze, interpret and understand them.

The workshop welcomes for consideration papers that employ quantitative and/or qualitative, analytical, theoretical approaches examining a diverse range of issues related to online harmful communications. Papers on resources/data and tools will also be welcome either for demos or for short/regular talks.

One best paper will be selected by the program committee, and the authors of the best paper will be invited for an extended version their paper to the Special Issue on Cyber-Social Health: Promoting Good and Countering Harm on Social Media.

Important Note

According to the current recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) and the United States Government to slow the spread of the COVID-19, the physical meeting of CySoc-2020 Workshop and ICWSM-2020 in Atlanta, Georgia has been cancelled. On the other hand, the workshop will be held as a virtual meeting during the same date on June 8, 2020. You can find more information on the ICWSM website. You can find the full program and registration information here.

Why attend the CySoc Workshop?

This workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners in computer and social sciences from both academia and industry to exchange ideas on understanding the multi-faceted aspects of harmful content while leading the discussion on building novel computational methods to reliably detect, derive meaning, interpret, understand and counter them. The participants will find opportunities to present and hear about other fundamental research and emerging applications, to exchange ideas and experiences, and to identify new opportunities for collaborations across disciplines. The researchers and practitioners from various disciplines are strongly encouraged to attend, including (but not limited to) behavioral science, computer and information sciences, psychology, sociology, political science, cognitive science, cultural study, information systems, terrorism and counter-terrorism, operations research, and communication.

Themes & Topics

We are interested in both computing and social science approaches that study the above research directions, based on quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methods. We expect to receive submissions and lead discussions on the topics of novel analytic methods, tools, and datasets.


The CySoc workshop has three main themes:

  • Detection and prediction of content, users, and communities
  • Countering harmful narratives
  • Ethical considerations and handling bias


Topics for research and discussions on challenges in dealing with the online harmful content include (but not limited to):

  • Online extremism
  • Harassment and cyberbullying
  • Hate speech
  • Gender-based violence
  • Human trafficking
  • Illicit drug trafficking
  • Mental health implications of social media
  • Ethical considerations on privacy-preserving social media analytics
  • Emotional and psychological support
  • Trust relationship and community dynamics
  • Relationship of the social web and mainstream news media
  • Cultural implications of social web usage
  • Influencer identification and community detection for movements
  • Misinformation and disinformation (e.g., epidemics of fake news, images and videos, during a disaster, health issues and elections)

Important Dates

Paper submissions due: April 29, 2020 May 4, 2020 (Anywhere on Earth)
Final decision notification: May 27, 2020
Camera-ready submissions due: June 3, 2020

Submission Instructions

We invite research papers (8 pages), position and short papers (4 pages), and demo papers (2 pages). Submissions must be original and should not have been published previously or be under consideration for publication while being evaluated for this workshop. Submissions will be evaluated by the program committee based on the quality of the work and its fit to the workshop themes. All submissions should be double-blind and a high-resolution PDF of the paper should be uploaded to the EasyChair submission site before the paper submission deadline. The accepted papers will be presented at the CySoc workshop integrated with the conference, and they will be published as Proceedings of the ICWSM Workshops. All must be submitted, and formatted in AAAI two-column, camera-ready style.

Workshop Program

8.30 – 8.45 AM – Welcome to the CySoc 2020 workshop attendees.
8.45 – 9.45 AM – Keynote I: Alexandra Olteanu, Microsoft Research.

"Challenges to Measuring Objectionable Behavior Online by Humans and Machines"
There is a rich literature on detecting and moderating a wide range of objectionable or deviant content and behaviors online, including hate speech, cyberbullying, trolling, and misinformation. There is also a growing literature on fairness, accountability, and transparency in computational systems that is concerned with how such systems may inadvertently reinforce and amplify such behaviors, or may even promote or manifest new types of objectionable behaviors. While many systems have become increasingly proficient at identifying clear cases of objectionable content and behaviors, there are still many persistent issues. While existing efforts often focus on issues that we know to look for, techniques for preempting future issues that may not yet be on the research community's radar are not nearly as well developed or understood. In this talk, I will share reflections on why many of these issues continue linger, including due to the reliance on proxy measurements, data generation and collection processes, training and testing datasets construction, and the design of evaluation metrics.

9.45 – 10.30 AM – COVID-19 Paper Session: Four papers will be presented with 12 minutes allocated for each, including Q/A.
10.30 – 10.45 AM – Coffee Break.
10.45 – 11.45 AM – Keynote II: Mikey Cohen, Director of Engineering at the Network Contagion Research Institute, former head of Edge Network Engineering at Netflix.

“Promoted to Zero: Why I choose Fighting Hate Online over Netflix?”
This talk describes the motivation behind my unexpected career change from being a leader at Netflix to starting a nonprofit. This new foundation, NCRI, not only attempts to identify and understand the root causes of hate but also tries to transform the model of how an institute and nonprofit should run, by bringing in the best of academia, social sciences, and the culture of Silicon Valley. Learn how this institute reframes how a nonprofit should function while seeking to decipher and resolve these seemingly insurmountable and ever changing problems online.

11.45 AM – 12.30 PM – Paper Session: Four papers will be presented with 12 minutes allocated for each, including Q/A.
12.30 PM – 12.50 PM – Synthesis/Brainstorming exercise, resulting in paper concepts for impactful future research, 20-minute discussion session.
12.50 PM – 1.00 PM – Closing remarks.


Online registration is available at https://aaaiconf.cvent.com/icwsm20. The workshop registration regular fee is $45, and for students $25. If you register for the ICWSM-20 technical conference, the general conference registration fee also includes admission to the Workshop/Tutorial Day, all technical sessions, and access to the electronic version of the ICWSM-20 Conference Proceedings. You will receive an email with a meeting link and password to virtually participate in the workshop when you register.
Registration Deadline: June 07, 2020


Ugur Kursuncu

AI Institute, University of South Carolina, SC, USA


Yelena Mejova

ISI Foundation, Turin, Italy


Jeremy Blackburn

State University of New York at Binghamton, NY, USA


Amit Sheth

AI Institute, University of South Carolina, SC, USA


Program Committee