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YouTube as a helpful and dangerous information source for deliberate self-harming behaviours

Alhassan, Muhammad Abubakar; Pennington, Diane


Muhammad Abubakar Alhassan


Online social media platforms remain an excellent source of data for information scientists. Existing studies have found that people who self-harm find it easier to disclose information regarding their behaviour on social media as compared to in-person interactions. Due to the large and growing volume of user-generated content on YouTube, sources of videos presenting information concerning self-harm and discussions surrounding those videos could be hidden by other contents. By using a categorisation codebook and state-of-the-art topic and sentiment analysis techniques, the authors identified distinct groups of users who uploaded videos about self-harm on YouTube (n=107) and uncovered the topics and sentiments expressed in 27,520 comments. In addition to other sources, our investigations discovered that 56% of the people uploading the examined videos are non-professionals, in contrast to the group of professionals with only 11% of the videos in the sample. In grouping comments based on similar topics, we discovered that self-harming users, clean (recovered) users, at-risk audiences, and appreciative users responded to the examined videos. Viewers responded more positively to 'recovered from self-harm' and 'appreciative' responses, as opposed to 'at-risk' and 'self-harm' comments with a high negative sentiments. These features could be used to build a classifier, although more research is needed to investigate self-injurious information to better support digital interventions for effective prevention and recovery.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name iConference 2022
Start Date Feb 28, 2022
End Date Mar 4, 2022
Publication Date Mar 4, 2022
Deposit Date Feb 6, 2023
Publisher Springer
Pages 347-362
Series Title Lecture Notes in Computer Science
Series Number 13193
Series ISSN 1611-3349
Book Title Information for a Better World: Shaping the Global Future: iConference 2022
ISBN 978-3-030-96959-2
Keywords social media; YouTube; self-harm; self-injury
Publisher URL