Unique tool can spot potential child rapists in online chat rooms

Apr 23, 2018, 07:06 IST | Agencies

The Chat Analysis Triage Tool (CATT), developed by researchers at Purdue Polytechnic Institute in the US, allows officers to work through the volume of solicitations and use algorithms to examine the word usage and conversation patterns by a suspect

Representation pic
Representation pic

Scientists have developed an algorithm that can help to identify potential sex offenders in online chatrooms, especially those who most likely to set up face-to-face meetings with children. Law enforcement officers are often inundated with cases involving the sexual solicitation of minors - some interested in sexual fantasy chats, and others intent on persuading an underage victim into a face-to-face meet.

The Chat Analysis Triage Tool (CATT), developed by researchers at Purdue Polytechnic Institute in the US, allows officers to work through the volume of solicitations and use algorithms to examine the word usage and conversation patterns by a suspect. Data was taken from chats provided voluntarily by law enforcement in the US.

"We tried to identify language-based differences and factors like self-disclosure," said Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar, assistant professor at the institute. Self-disclosure is when suspect tries to develop trust by sharing a personal story, which is usually negative, such as parental abuse.

"If we can identify language differences, the tool can identify these differences in the chats to give a risk assessment and a probability that this person is going to try face-to-face contact with the victim," Seigfried-Spellar added. "Meaning we could potentially stop a sex offence from occurring..."

'Protect our kids'
Britain's health secretary says the government will introduce laws targeting social media firms if they don't do more to protect children, calling their failure to prevent the underage from using social media "unacceptable and irresponsible".

4,300
No. of messages examined in chat sessions involving arrested sex offenders

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