Teenage girl wins science fair with anti-trolling software

A thirteen year old girl has reached the final shortlist of a Google science fair by creating a form of anti-trolling software.

Although we might be used to the high-school movie stereotype of science fairs being a competition full of test tubes and dioramas, Google's science fair is an online competition for teenagers across the world to submit projects.

Trisha Prabhu, from Illinois in the US, carried out research to prove that cyber-bullying was affecting teenagers negatively, and decided to try and create some software to counter it.

She wrote in her online proposal that "I hypothesized that if adolescents (ages 12-18) were provided an alert mechanism that suggested them to re-think their decision if they expressed willingness to post a mean/hurtful message on social media, the number of mean/hurtful messages adolescents will be willing to post would be lesser than adolescents that are not provided with such an alert mechanism."

Trisha then created two systems called Baseline and Rethink. Both track whether a user is willing to post an offensive message online, but the Rethink system offers the chance to reconsider before posting.

She trialled the software on 1500 adolescents, and the Rethink system saw around a 5% decrease in users willing to post harmful messages on social media.

After being shortlisted to the final fifteen of the Google science fair competition, Trisha is now looking for a way to integrate her software with leading social media sites. Although her aim was to reduce teen cyber-bullying, it could be a great solution to Twitter trolling in the future.