Anonymous Forum Users Can Be Identified By Linguistics

Researchers discover ways to identify the authors of anonymous online comments through linguistic analysis.

If you want to ensure your anonymous comments online really do stay anonymous, it's probably wise to
start using leetspeak.

A team of researchers from Drexel University and George Mason University has discovered that up to 80 percent of certain anonymous underground forum users can be identified using linguistics. "If our dataset contains 100 users we can at least identify 80 of them," researcher Sadia Afroz told an audience at the 29C3 Chaos Communication Congress in Germany.

"Function words are very specific to the writer. Even if you are writing a thesis, you'll probably use the same function words in chat messages. Even if your text is not clean, your writing style can give you away."

[Image: State Library of New South Wales on Flickr]

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1 Comments

  • Fabio Periera

    Which leads to a bigger and more important question: at what point does this kind of data/linguistic analysis cross the line from interesting inquiry to privacy violation? Do we really need to know that much about each other?