An "anti-grooming" software recently developed by scientists may prove a handy tool online. it is designed to detect whether kids may be chatting with an adult posing as a child or a teenager on the Internet.
The program, which has been developed by Lancaster University, uses language analysis technique to detect fraudsters.
AdvertisementThe key is that people of a particular age group have a particular vocabulary. Computer experts believe it could be a significant breakthrough in helping to catch paedophiles.
In a study, when the software was installed on some computers, it correctly worked out whether it was an adult or a child using a chatroom in 47 cases out of 50 - including when an adult was pretending to be a child.
"Paedophiles often pose as children online and our research indicates that children don't find it easy to spot an adult pretending to be a child," The Independent quoted Professor Awais Rashid, from Lancaster University's computing department, as saying.
"We hope to develop an automated system which can pick up on quirks of language particular to a certain age group. These language patterns can help us to expose adults who seek to groom children online.
"The software looks at a range of things, for example, the structure of sentences, the language which is being used and also things which indicate deception."
Alison Wilkinson, from Queen Elizabeth School, said, "We are concerned about the dangers our pupils face when they're online and have welcomed the opportunity to help the project, at the same time as raising pupils' awareness of the risks. It has been chilling to watch them being taken in by adults masquerading as teenagers."