Researchers have developed an algorithm that can detect online sexual predators


US scientists have developed an algorithm that can recognize sexual predators on online chat boards. This program, intended to help the police, could be implemented by the end of the year.

To help the police in their hunt for sexual predators, researchers at the Purdue University College of Technology in the United States have developed an algorithm to identify sex offenders most likely to have a meeting with a child. This tool, the Chat Analysis Triage Tool (CATT), was presented at the conference of the International Association of Intelligence Analysts in California.

To create this algorithm, more than 4,300 messages of 107 online discussions were used, involving messages by sexual predators who had already been arrested. This allowed the developers to identify redundancies in the words used by these offenders, particularly in the process of “self-disclosure”.

Self-disclosure is a tactic in which the suspect tries to gain the trust of the victim by sharing a personal story, usually negative, such as parental violence. These observations formed the basis of CATT.

This software has several features:

  • It allows police officers to quantify the level of solicitations of the person. Someone just wanting to have sexual conversations (talk dirty), not a meeting with the person, will move on quickly to another person.
  • It can, by analyzing the language, approximate a person’s age. A 30-year-old person writes differently than a 10-year-old adolescent.
  • It can help in setting a profile that better represent a 10-year-old child. The offender will initiate the conversation with this false profile and the police will only have to respond. This can speed up the dating process instead of trying to build a relationship of trust for months.
  • Finally, this algorithm gives an assessment of the risks and the probability that this person tries to come into direct contact with the victim.
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According to the scientists, following this assessment, the police can prioritize the cases on which they want to put the most resources, investigate as quickly as possible and thus potentially prevent sexual assault.

As a first step, this new tool will be entrusted to several police services for a test and can then be generally implemented at the end of the year.

Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.