Press Releases

13 year old seeks to create first of its kind ‘Bullying Index’

Fairfax County, Virginia – January 10, 2014 – Viraj Puri, a 13 year old student from Fairfax County, Virginia, wants to create the only known live Social Media ‘Heatmap’ scanning daily instances of social media activity related to bullying. Still in a beta-phase (, Puri is looking to partner with lead data scientists Dr. Xiaojin ‘Jerry’ Zhu of the University of Wisconsin and Kalev Leetaru, a fellow and adjunct faculty at Georgetown University. He has also reached out to Twitter and Facebook to allow them access to their data.

“We know we can do this, it’s just a matter of gaining access to the data, which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars without help from Twitter and Facebook,” says Puri.

“Every state that I have researched is making great strides with laws and rules regarding bullying and reporting. Using the ‘Heatmap’ I’m taking this to the next step to provide a ‘Bullying Index’ for entire communities so they see where bullying is an issue. Our goal is not only to “predict” the likelihood of the next bullying occurrence but see where it’s happening geographically, which begs the question ‘Why it is more of an epidemic in some areas of the country over others?’ New homeowners look into at the quality of schools, crime, jobs etc. when they are looking to move into a new area, parents should have an indicator as to how bullying is in each county, city and school district across the United States before they move into a new area. This will put more focus on quality of life and get lawmakers to address this very important issue,” says Puri.

“With every post and story that appears in the headlines, I want to compile where bullying is a problem whether they are on Twitter or Facebook and identify possible geographic pockets where bullying problems exist around the United States,” says Puri.

Through the website and recent contact with Washington DC lawmakers, Puri is in the process or reaching out to state attorney generals across the country to learn more about what they feel they need to address online bullying. Puri states, “All the work that has been done in this area is already old by the time it is mapped. What good is that? Kids know how to turn off our devices and manage our privacy on social media. I would like to work with Twitter, Facebook, Google, Snapchat and others to analyze their data on a daily basis. It hasn’t been done and I want Bullyvention to be the impetus in creating relevant information about bullying that every website, parent and lawmaker can see and use.”

“Puri added, “I am currently working on our map with Oleksandr Bondar a coder at Vertalab, but we have much more work to do.”

To learn more, sign up and volunteer your knowledge or data analyzing capability through ‘Heatmapping’ visit

About Kalev H. Leetaru

Leetaru is currently the Yahoo! Fellow in Residence of International Values, Communications Technology & the
Global Internet at Georgetown University. He helps lead the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT), the largest open database of human society, an archive of over a quarter-billion human events compiled from computer processing a quarter-century of the world’s news. His award-winning work centers on the pioneering application of the world’s largest supercomputers, datasets, and algorithms towards understanding human society at scales never before imagined and in ways that push the boundaries of computing and give us new insights into what makes us human. His Global Twitter Heartbeat collaboration was the first to map large-scale emotion in social media in realtime and was recently ranked one of the top social media studies of 2013. Most recently he was named as one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013 for his work as one of the foremost leaders in using big data to understand human society.

About Xiaojin ‘Jerry’ Zhu

Xiaojin Zhu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Zhu received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 1993 and 1996, respectively, and a Ph.D. degree in Language Technologies from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. He was a research staff member at IBM China Research Laboratory from 1996 to 1998. Dr. Zhu received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2010, and paper awards at ICML, ECML/PKDD, and SIGSOFT. His research interest is in machine learning, with applications in natural language processing, cognitive science, and social media.

Viraj Puri