Google Search Can Be a Predictor of Domestic Violence

, especially during times of crisis, such as the period following the COVID-19 outbreak. And policymakers can use these results to establish better surveillance/monitoring systems to prevent, reduce, and even predict increases in domestic violence.

Koksal collaborated with former colleague Dr Ebru Sanliturk (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Studies) and consulted with former Bocconi scholar Valentina Rotondi (SUPSI and University of Oxford), who is working on a Similar topic to Bocconi alumnus Luca Maria Pesando (McGill University). They joined forces and analyzed the relationship between Google searching for nine keywords related to domestic violence on the one hand and calling the Italian domestic violence helpline 1522 on the other hand and the emergency number on the other. 112 in Lombardy.


The keywords chosen were: 1522 (family violence helpline number in Italy), abuse (abuso), family and abuse (casa & abuso), family and rape (casa & stupro) , feminicide (femminicidio), rape (stupro), family violence (violenza domestica), gender-based violence (violenza di genere) and sexual violence (violenza sessuale).

The basic idea of ​​the study is that the Internet – and specifically Google – can raise concerns ranging from media to anonymity about abusive partners and relevant information gathering. Calls to the helpline (1522) measure potential risk of domestic violence, while calls to emergency numbers measure actual violence.

The frequency of queries for the keywords 1522, women’s violence, domestic violence, and gender-based violence was consistently positively and significantly correlated with helpline calls over the entire period. investigated period (2013-2020), with a time delay between search and call of approximately one week.

Their predictability increased after the COVID-19 outbreak, when traditional help mechanisms became less accessible.

Online searches only help predict actual violence in crisis situations. Only after the COVID-19 outbreak, in fact, was there a significant and positive correlation between searches for the four keywords (1522, abuse, domestic violence, and sexual violence) and calls to the emergency number.

Finally, the authors observe a disturbing socioeconomic divide. “The projections proved to be more reliable for populations with high socioeconomic status, because they outperformed other socioeconomic classes on Google in the context of This may prevent them from accessing the correct online resources to seek help.”

The authors advise policymakers to monitor domestic violence-related searches and accordingly strengthen their support activities, while strengthening services where and when searches become available. more often while raising awareness through the media. Koksal concludes: “They can also intervene on behalf of disadvantaged people, by promoting Internet literacy and, in the short term, persuading Google to display domestic violence support services in the community. number of top results as it did in the US.”

Source: Eurekalert

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