Will Your Text Messaging Style Implicate You In Criminal Cases?

from the perhaps dept

There has been plenty of research done into how people write in distinct ways, such that a certain person can be connected (or not) to a specific written work. However, it appears that some of that research doesn't work when it comes to the text messaging world, where people change the style of what they write to fit within the character limit or the need to "triple tap" on a numeric keyboard. With that in mind, researchers are starting a project to collect and analyze text messages to see if they contain similar identifying characteristics -- with the hope of helping police in criminal cases. So, if you plan on being a criminal mastermind via your mobile phone, you may want to start mixing up your text messaging style.


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  1.  
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    Jon, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 3:06am

    this is what they research?

    in how many cases is this actually likely to have an impact?

     

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  2.  
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    laura, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 3:42am

    Re: this is what they research?

    How is this different, or less valid, than voice or handwriting analysis? It's one of the most popular modes of communication.

     

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  3.  
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    claire rand, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 4:07am

    ways to catch the stupid.

    anyone daft enough to be doing something illegal over a medium such as sms (or email for that matter) who doesn't at least obsufcate what they are typing deserves to be caught.

    and frankly my style of sending sms varies depending on how much time i have to send it. good luck tying anyone to a one or two work sms typed when they were busy.

    i think it will be used to try and derail the argument of 'yes it may have come from my phone but proove I typed it' by confusing a jury to the extent they forget about it and just assume that however shaky the 'evidence' is that it must be good.

    but frankly if i did anything naughty via sms.. well just try proving what the message meant, let alone who sent it.

    not that i blame them for at least looking, but it will be another way of catching the stupid, and forcing the brighter to start encrypting or at least otherwise muddling the issue.

     

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  4.  
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    Clair, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 4:15am

    Personally, it shouldn't matter much. There's so much lost in text messaging, really. The tone isn't the same. And having limited characters per message makes it trickier to make sure that you wouldn't come across as someone with bad intentions.

     

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  5.  
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    Dom, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: this is what they research?

    "How is this different, or less valid, than voice or handwriting analysis? It's one of the most popular modes of communication."

    There are only so many ways you can type a text message into a mobile phone, whereas there are unlimited various nuances detectable in someone's handwriting or voice.

     

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  6.  
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    Q, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 4:55am

    THAT'S WHY YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS! ALL THE COOL KIDS ARE DOING IT. CAPS LOCK IS CRUSIE CONTROL FOR COOL.

     

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  7.  
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    Daniel (profile), Aug 11th, 2006 @ 5:05am

    The Future of SMS Crimes...

    I can just see it now - in a dark basement, the deranged criminal pores over lists of sms messages he has collected over the years until he finds a snippet that can be used - carefully, he places it into the body of text where, with the previous work he's done, it spells out his message.

    Or, he writes whatever he wants, translates it into arabic via google, translates it back into english and sends his sanitized message with no worries.

    I do agree, if they can get around the problems inherent in finding telltale idiosynchracies in a necessarily terse message, it will be a nice way to catch the stupid.

     

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  8.  
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    Daniel (profile), Aug 11th, 2006 @ 5:14am

    Re: The Future of SMS Crimes...

    Of course, google still has a ways to go in this area - this is what happens when I did the above to my last set of comments...

    I can only see it now in the dark bottom, Criminal chaotic Almsamat lists messages messages collected over the years to find Janeiro which can be used carefully, The places at the heart of the text in the previous work done, and explain his letter. Or write whatever he wants, and is translated into Arabic through translation and Ggl back into English and sent him a letter Jamil not worries. I If they are able to circumvent the problems inherent in creating Ediosinscherasis affirmed in a brief message will necessarily Nice way to catch stupid.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 5:35am

    the thing that worries me about this, is the limitations of "styles" of writing.

    we all use abbreviations, wtf, lol, afaik, imho.....and so on. what is likely to happen that some regular dick or jane is pulled into questioning for a tripple murder and terrorism case, because they used wtf too much.

    a friend of mine was accused of cheating in a programming assignment. he had the same variables and whatnot for a program as another kid. did he cheat? no. what happened. we had all been taught simmilar conventions, int x; int y; for coordinates or scrolling through 2d arrays. char answer; and such.

    he was lucky enough to get a "reprogram" instead of being thrown out of school.

    hopefully our great and wonderful government will consider ALL possibilities with this.

     

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  10.  
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    Rabid Wolverine, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 5:38am

    RE SMS Investigations

    Everyone's freaked out obout the terrrorist and frankly, if law enforcements efforts in this area help them catch even one of them, then it's worth it.

    Terrorism is a fatal disease of our soceity and has to be stamped out.

     

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  11.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 6:02am

    I don't know...

    Trying to identify someone by the way they send electronic messages? Handwriting makes sense because there is no limit to how a person's writing styles develops. But there are only so many ways to type a message and it still makes sense to the person on the other end.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 6:16am

    Re: RE SMS Investigations

    Actually, terrorism is more of a "fetal" disease. It is being bred into the culture from the earliest stages.

    As Golda Meir (4th PM of Israel, circa 1969) said - "Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us." [attributed]

     

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  13.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 6:25am

    Re:


    a friend of mine was accused of cheating in a programming assignment. he had the same variables and whatnot for a program as another kid. did he cheat? no. what happened. we had all been taught simmilar conventions, int x; int y; for coordinates or scrolling through 2d arrays. char answer; and such.


    I saw this happen in one of my college programming courses once. There are only so many ways that a piece of code can be written and it still be efficient.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 6:31am

    Re: RE SMS Investigations

    those willing to sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.

     

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  15.  
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    w1nX, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 6:33am

    Re: Styles of txt msgs

    True enuff. The universal language is math. But how many people do you know can send text in HEX??

    |-|3LL, 1 571LL u53 13375p34k 5u//71//35 1|| 1RC 0r 1//.

    Everyone is paranoid these days with good reason - the world teeters on the edge of insanity. So go ahead governments of the world - sniff my SMS. I'll download single=key encryption tools from the bittorrent sites. xD

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 7:00am

    the only reason we are paranoid is becuase we are told to be. we have cameras in every little corner of the world telling us what's going on, or who will blow us up. has this been any different in the past?

    no, we've always had crazy people wanting to destroy the world, it's just that we are "well aware" of it, and now we want protection. we've done fine up until now, so what's the big difference? I'd rather let 100 criminals go than to imprision 1 innocent person.

    am i worried that we may be blown up by some cook? yes i am. do i let it get to me? no. if it's gonna happen, it will. the govt reading txt messages isn't going to stop it. maybe the govt should be planning on how to assist those once this does happen?

     

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  17.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 7:09am

    What if I use T9? It does a decent job guessing what I intend with out the triple taps.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 7:39am

    Yea, Ken Lay of Enron sent text messages to energy producers to go offline and decrease the supply, To bad he died or we could have had solid eveidence against him to get im life in prison.

     

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  19.  
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    Lay Person, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 7:41am

    Who cares?

    Who cares?

    This is clearly some lame excuse to get reasearch money.

    It doesn't matter what for, as long as they get the money.

    That way next year it's easier to get more money for further research.

    I went to a university with some phds; they had to come up with some research ideas. Most were kinda interesting but guess who got the funding? The guy, who submited his study as a joke, to prove a point that it doesn't matter what is submitted because the people giving out the money determine what matters.

    Oh yeah, the winning study was the sexual reproduction of earthworms.

     

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  20.  
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    krum303, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 7:56am

    Worthless

    Sounds pretty worthless, especially with T9 completing words for you as well as Blackberry's and PDA's. Then it'd be the same as using an email or typed letter. I'm on an MDA right now and my sms's don't resemble those sent on regular mobile phones. WTF will they think of next?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 8:12am

    lol lmao cu-ltr brb

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 8:27am

    The main question should be :

    Can it be used against you in court.

    I would think not for the reason that there is no real science behind it. Hell even polygraphs aren't admissable (even though many people still use them).

    Like polygraphs, writing styles can be faked, not only that its based on "interpritation" of ...you guessed it, a person.

    Just another waste of taxpayer $$.

     

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  23.  
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    charlie potatoes, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 8:32am

    crime

    Long ago a wise man said, 'There is no 'organized' crime... criminals only seem organized... when we compare them to the police.'
    The more things change the more they remain the same.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 8:42am

    Re:

    Its acutally funny that you mention that.

    What has changed since the 70's? (for those of use old enough to remember).

    Arabs fighting jews. Still happening
    Arabs blowing shit up. Still happening
    Arabs pulling a pinky and the brain and trying to rule the world. Still happening
    Arabs controlling the majority of the oil. Still happening.

    America is hated by everyone. Still happening (and I see the point to be honest)

    We're a joke, political system is corrupt, judicial system is a joke, people are being isolated by electronic devices that allow you to reach out and touch someone in africa from the united states, yet most of us don't really know the person down the street (or want to for that matter).

    What's the point?

    The only thing that has changed is the coverage. People are glued to the TV, and the interesting thing is that the newsies aren't interested in NEWS in general, but ratings and revenue. So the more sensational the bullshit, the more people watch it.

    Since the ony thing that has changed is the coverage, they say the same shit every hour on the hour. Nothing new, just regurgitating the same crap because we have a timeslot to fill. BUT SHIT MIGHT HAPPEN ANY MINUTE, SO DONT GO AWAY!!!!!!!!.

    Nothing has changed, nothing will change. For the simple fact that to change anything would change the status quo and force dimwits to come up with another "winning idea".

    Really, how many CSI spinoffs and reality shows do we really need?

     

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  25.  
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    BananaFish, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 9:59am

    Re:

    Cruise control for cool.....

    haha!

    Best thing i've read all day.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 10:50am

    Re:

    I agree with banana, I got a good laugh out of that. That and Mike's lovely line: "So, if you plan on being a criminal mastermind via your mobile phone..." rofl good stuff. The visual I get imagining a mobile phone criminal mastermind is great... :D

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 1:11pm

    Arabs fighting jews. Still happening
    Arabs blowing shit up. Still happening
    Arabs pulling a pinky and the brain and trying to rule the world. Still happening
    Arabs controlling the majority of the oil. Still happening.

    America is hated by everyone. Still happening (and I see the point to be honest)


    Yeah - the murderers are treated almost indifferently - yet the country that has brought more to the world in the last 200 years than any other culture in the last 10,000 years is hated - go figure. Many 'western' countries have given much to the world too - not just the US. Don't be fooled by this - radical Islam's waging a war against 'The Zionist Entity'. Thinking this is *just* the US and Israel is like living with your head in the sand. It's just that the US and Israel are the most immediate threats to their quest of true Islam dominating the world - Europe, Asia - would all be next. While people sit daily and hope for the US's demise - think of what the world would be like without 'Western Civilization' just for a minute. Don't fail to forget the lessons we should have learned in World War 2 - there are people out there who seek to dominate all the rest of mankind and won't stop until the do it - or die trying.

    It's not *all* the Arabs though - it's the Islamic Facists (yes, that's a good, descriptive term, IMO).

    I mean seriously - before the 'American Culture' started to seep out all over the world, things like Slavery, Torture were still accepted as common place.

    Any country or person makes mistakes - but the attitude towards the mistakes is where the differance lies. The US outlawed slavery - first country to do so - as a matter of fact in some Europeon countries slavery is still 'technically' not illegal. While it's not accepted in society, there's no law saying you cannot own a slave. I read a quite informative article on it a couple years ago on MSN about sex slavery in Europe - primarily a problem in the Eastern half, but still exists; nonetheless. And in many countries slavery's still practiced and endorsed by the Governments (north korea, for example).

    So where's the UN and the other 'enlightened' nations screaming about this?

    Who's the real problem in the world? The US for being successful or Iran for still requiring women to cover their faces? It's accepted law there that if a Women's raped her own family is allowed to kill her as she 'shamed' them by being raped. If that's not twisted, I'm not sure what is.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2977446.stm

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/02/021 2_020212_honorkilling.html

    Funny to listen to people scream about the US killing people in Iraq when we haven't even came close to approaching the numbers that Saddam wiped out on his whims. And it's not like the US has the intent of taking over the country and running it like a dictatorship. If we did, it would have been over with long ago.

    No person is perfect, so it makes sense no country governed by humans will ever be perfect. But some countries strive to change and uphold human rights, others could care less. In the US - when a soldier rapes and murders a person they are charged accordingly - in Islam, you're allowed to rape and murder your own family for 'Honor'.

    We could start a nice big list of all the atrocities countries have commited - none are innocent. Problem is - this technology's a wonderful thing - until it gets in the wrong hands - and if those hands have a whole lot of power - watch out.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2006 @ 11:46pm

    Re:

    Um no... Great Britain outlawed slavery before the USA did- the USA did nt outlaw slavery except to stop Britain from being politically able to support the CSA in the Civil War (France would have had a field dayif they could say that Britain was supporting a slave-based economy over a free one). Slavery was not even outlawed in the whole of the uSA until after the Civil War, which was not about slavery until Lincon made it so.
    The fact that the south had the constitutional right toi secede was ignored by the north, and to my mind it was very hypocritical of the north to fail to provide the rights o the south the War of independence had been fought for. Furthermore, in the USA, people were siezed and jailed without trial for no crime, and state politics were forcibly intervened in by Fedreal military (The Maryland State governement).

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Aug 13th, 2006 @ 11:46pm

    Re:

    Um no... Great Britain outlawed slavery before the USA did- the USA did nt outlaw slavery except to stop Britain from being politically able to support the CSA in the Civil War (France would have had a field dayif they could say that Britain was supporting a slave-based economy over a free one). Slavery was not even outlawed in the whole of the uSA until after the Civil War, which was not about slavery until Lincon made it so.
    The fact that the south had the constitutional right toi secede was ignored by the north, and to my mind it was very hypocritical of the north to fail to provide the rights o the south the War of independence had been fought for. Furthermore, in the USA, people were siezed and jailed without trial for no crime, and state politics were forcibly intervened in by Fedreal military (The Maryland State governement).

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 5:15pm

    Clever Students and not so clever teachers.

    The problem is that the teacher was not clever enough
    to realise training can produce similar (and occasionally, identical results!)
    If the teacher was brighter and had a better grasp of statistics and probability - schooling would be a lot easier.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    nscgtvfxp@mail.com, Oct 10th, 2006 @ 6:03am

    wcxabqm ahbdtjg

    hnxbgiol bkshpvg mtiwq gutn cvho adjgce lqsb

     

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  32.  
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    grpmwn@mail.com, Oct 10th, 2006 @ 6:04am

    cukvtjfl vjzhekq

    bqkcm gxpma yxai mjvtb jctafzsx mrtsgn tlecbdymk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    qtdaxewv@mail.com, Oct 10th, 2006 @ 6:04am

    uzhjkpwam irbk

    piuqwbe ajpwoqhz pbhl wqvdiag gmaqzoery glouc qupwvgl

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    jrpl@mail.com, Oct 10th, 2006 @ 6:04am

    ysohgr uswcze

    uehnz tqwzl wexfhk dkswp bqiaemch zuhljpfim tqywofgzd

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    wenbrlzh@mail.com, Oct 10th, 2006 @ 6:05am

    mevdr mynvk

    njqihpke xfhlyg mlyftzwb ashycxgd yzbol fbvxj vilqamzrn

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    ubvcglmni@mail.com, Oct 10th, 2006 @ 6:06am

    aflvmsg yvmf

    mgjv htynjwkv pjmkdxras dplcwyemk sytcdqfn fudtr fcwgbzled

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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