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Desmond Upton Patton is an Associate Professor of Social Work, member of the Data Science Institute and holds a courtesy appointment in Sociology at Columbia University.

Dr. Patton directs the SAFElab, an interdisciplinary research group composed of community members, social workers, and data scientists who use computational and qualitative methods to detect and predict pathways to aggression on social media.


Oct 19, 2017

How Facebook Tries to Regulate Postings Made by Two Billion People

Berkman Klein Center hosts a day of conversation about reducing harmful speech online and hears from the Facebook executive in charge of platform moderation policies

The Berkman Klein Center community explores broader research questions and topics related to the challenges of keeping tabs on the daily social media interactions of hundreds of… More



Has Twitter just had its saddest fortnight ever?

Sorrow alone doesn’t tell the whole story, Desmond Patton says.

Jun 15, 2020
MIT CMSW Podcast

Contextual Analysis of Social Media

A podcast with Desmond Patton on the promise and challenge of eliciting context in social media posts with natural language processing

Feb 21, 2020

5 Questions on Data and Context with Desmond Patton

The BKC faculty associate discusses the importance of meaningful interaction with the people behind data

Feb 21, 2020

Guns on social media: complex interpretations of gun images posted by Chicago youth

“How should we interpret gun images on social media?” Desmond Patton asks

Oct 15, 2019

The Modern Bystander Effect

Desmond Patton talks to PBS about violence Facebook Live

Oct 14, 2019
Tech Crunch

Why AI needs more social workers

BKC Faculty Associate Desmond Patton shares his perspective

Aug 9, 2019

Trump wants to “detect mass shooters before they strike.” It won’t work.

Predictive AI is too flawed — both technically and ethically — to prevent another El Paso or Dayton.

Aug 7, 2019
Columbia News

Using Twitter to Predict Gang Violence

Desmond Patton says law enforcement officials should analyze social media posts about grief and stress to prevent violent crime among young people.

May 30, 2019
The International Journal of Bullying Prevention

When Twitter Fingers Turn to Trigger Fingers: a Qualitative Study of Social Media-Related Gang Violence

Leveraging expertise to understand social media's role in gang activity

Apr 3, 2019
Justice Matters Podcast

Justice Matters Podcast: Desmond Patton

On the intersection of social media, ethics, and human rights

Apr 1, 2019

Why AI Needs Social Workers and “non-tech” Folks

Incorporating social work and values into community-based AI research

Mar 24, 2019
Voice of America

VR Project Highlights Social Media Policing

Police gather on social media in order to prevent and investigate criminal activity. But the clues found within aren't always conclusive

Nov 6, 2018