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Professors and students with the Creighton University study online mobs as they have become a growing presence in our tech-driven world

OMAHA, Nebraska – Online mobs are gaining prominence in our technologically advanced society. Virtually, thousands of people are congregating with both positive and negative motives.

Creighton University is on the front lines, attempting to comprehend these mobs and perhaps preventing any negative outcomes.

When you think of the phrase “mob,” you often see rioters assaulting businesses or government facilities. Or, alternatively, a group gathering together to generate funds for a worthy cause.

Mobs, whether positive or negative, are growing in popularity and influence on social media.

Jack Burright, a student at Creighton, feels that understanding about them is essential.

“This is something that matters in the world and would love to be a part of and learn more about,” Burright said.

Burright collaborates with Creighton Assistant Professor Dr. Samer Al-Khateb on an Air Force-funded research project. They are entrusted with determining how online mobs form and how likely they are to achieve their objective.

“Because social media is getting bigger and bigger with time, there’s only going to be more happening in cyberspace.”

Dr. Al-Khateeb says this understanding could have profound effects on national security.

“In the past it used to be really more for fun, but then as time passes, and technology is advancing, things are getting more serious,” Dr. Al-Khateeb said.

Dr. Al-Khateeb says understanding online mobs can help strategize a response in advance.

“Being able to understand, you can be prepared if things don’t go as they should.”

One strategy is a counter-messaging campaign built by understanding the appropriate language, hashtags, and concepts to express.

Burright wants to be a part of this future.

“I feel like anything I could do to contribute to something bigger than myself, I feel that would be fantastic. I think this is an opportunity where I can help others and help the world.”

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