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Call for Papers - Online Social Networks and Media Journal

Special issue on Detecting, Understanding and Countering Online Harms

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Event Details


Online Social Networks and Media Journal (OSNEM)

Special issue on Detecting, Understanding and Countering Online Harms

** Submission Deadline: 31st December 2020 **

 Online Social Networks and Media have revolutionized society, and are now a key part of how most people work, live, socialize, find information and entertain themselves. But whilst they have generated huge benefits, leading to unprecedented connectivity across the globe, online social networks have also enabled the spread of hazardous and dangerous behaviours. Such ‘online harms’ are now a pressing concern of policymakers, regulators and big tech companies. Building deep knowledge about the scope, nature, prevalence, origins and dynamics of online harms is crucial for ensuring we can clean up online spaces. This, in turn, requires innovation and advances in methods, data, theory and research design -- and developing multi-domain and multi-disciplinary approaches. In particular, there is a real need for methodological research that develops high-quality methods for detecting online harms in a robust, fair and explainable way.

This special issue seeks high-quality scientific articles (including data-driven, experimental and theoretical research) which examine harmful behaviours, communities, discourses and ideas in online social networks and media. We welcome submissions on any online harm but particularly encourage papers which focus on online hate, misinformation, disinformation, extremism and terrorism. Data-driven approaches, supported by publicly available datasets, are strongly encouraged.

Areas of interest are (1) detecting and measuring online harms, (2) analysing online harms through the use of advanced modelling techniques and (3) developing and interrogating ways to tackle online harms. This includes but is not limited to:

* The prevalence of online harms, either on one online platform or several.
* The efficacy, usability and appropriateness of different counter measures to tackle online harms; both policies and new technologies.
* The impact of large trigger events, such as COVID19 or the murder of George Floyd.
* Niche and smaller online platforms, including how they differ from mainstream spaces.
* Modelling and analysis techniques to predict online harms, as well as their dynamics and associated factors.
* Machine learning (e.g. natural language processing and computer vision) to detect and categorise online harms.
* The prevalence and role of counter speech online.
* Biases in methods and analyses, including how explainable, accessible, fair, transparent and interpretable they are.
* Integrated analysis of different online harms (e.g. studying how misinformation, hate and extremism intersect).
* Cross-platform and inter-platform dynamics, such as user migration from mainstream to niche spaces.
* Strategies for online harm dissemination used by malicious actors and others.
* Community-based detection methods.
* The ethics and social implications of socio-technical research to study and target online harms.


Online Social Networks and Media is a multidisciplinary journal for the wide community of computer and network scientists working on developing OSNEM platforms and services and using OSNEM as a big data source to mine, learn and model the (online) human behaviour. Manuscripts only based on questionnaires, even focused on the reported use of social media, are outside the scope of the journal. On the other hand, the journal welcomes papers which present analyses based on big data mined from social networks/media.

Tentative Timeline:

 Manuscript submission deadline: 31st December 2020
 First notification: 28th February 2021
 Submission of revised paper: 31st March 2021
 Notification of acceptance: 30th April 2021

Guest Editors

Arkaitz Zubiaga, Queen Mary University of London
Bertie Vidgen, Alan Turing Institute
Miriam Fernandez, Open University
 Nishanth Sastry, University of Surrey

Instructions for submission:

Manuscripts must not have been previously published nor currently under review by other journals or conferences. Papers previously published in conference proceedings are eligible for submission if the submitted manuscript is a substantial revision and extension of the conference version. In this case, authors should indicate the previous publication(s) in the cover letter and are also required to submit
their published conference article(s) and a summary document explaining the enhancements made in the journal version. The submission website for this journal is located at 

Please select ''VSI:Online Harms'' when you reach the ''Article Type'' step in the submission process. To ensure that all manuscripts are correctly identified, for consideration by the special issue, the authors should indicate in the cover letter that the manuscript has been submitted for the special issue on ''Detecting, Understanding and Countering Online Harms''.

Manuscripts can be submitted continuously until the deadline. Once a paper is submitted, the review process will start immediately. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (in the first issue available as soon as the paper is accepted). All accepted papers will be listed together in an online virtual special issue published in the journal website.