Ozgur Can Seckin’s quest for difference-making research and discoveries led him to the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.
That includes detecting and preventing mental health issues online.
The Luddy Grad Fellow and Informatics Ph.D. student said the Luddy School provides opportunities to learn about the frontiers of research in different topics thanks to its outstanding professors and collaborative structure.
“This is a nourishing place for young scholars who are eager for interdisciplinary research and are aiming for joining the bourgeoning community of computational social scientists,” Seckin said.
One highlight is the study, “Quantifying the Digital Phenotype of Loneliness on Twitter,” which he wrote with Luddy Informatics Chair Johan Bollen, as well as Danny Valdez, assistant professor at the IU School of Public Health, and Ege Otenen, an IU Ph.D. student in Cognitive Science and Informatics.
The goal was to serve the public and increase well-being.
Seckin, who came to Bloomington from Turkey, said recent studies show that one out of two Americans report feelings of loneliness. That’s a precursor to public health concerns such as depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
“This trend coincides with the meteoric rise of social media platforms whose ostensible purpose is to foster social interactions and connections,” he said. “How can so many Americans feel lonely and disconnected when more than 90 percent use social media on a daily basis?”
The study examined the lexical, emotional, and social differences between lonely individuals and a random control group from large-scale longitudinal social media.
Seckin said lonely individuals exhibit distinct language patterns in their social media content that are more often self-referential, such as, “but I,” and generally more negative.
Indicators of online social relations include the number of online friends and favorites.
Lonely users' ego-networks show that they have fewer social relations and have less densely connected networks, meaning that their friends are less likely to be friends with each other compared to a random group of users.
“Our results provide quantitative insights into the lexical, social, and affective markers that characterize loneliness online,” he said, “and provide a starting point for the development of a digital phenotype of loneliness.”
Seckin has co-authored multiple articles, including a multi-platform collection of social media posts addressing the 2022 U.S. mid-term elections.
Another publication under review concerns mechanisms driving anti-vaccine propaganda during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Ultimately, Seckin’s research tries to find strategies for analyzing online behaviors to increase well-being and address public issues concerning Internet data. Topics include polarization, dis- and misinformation on social media, computational social science, network science, machine learning, data science and economics.
Seckin reflects the high quality of Fall 2022 Luddy Grad Fellows. The others are Md Saidul Hoque Anik, Tsun-An Hsieh, Minsuk Kim, Eli McGraw, Mary Nelson and Chhavi Thakur.