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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Comments on “Will Your Text Messaging Style Implicate You In Criminal Cases?”

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36 Comments
Dom says:

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.

claire rand says:

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.

Daniel (profile) says:

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.

Daniel (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: 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.

w1nX says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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?

Lay Person says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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 $$.

Anonymous Coward says:

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/2002/02/0212_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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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).

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Re: 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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