“go on cam but dnt be dirty”: linguistic levels of identity assumption in undercover online operations against child sex abusers

MacLeod, Nicola and Grant, Timothy D (2018). “go on cam but dnt be dirty”: linguistic levels of identity assumption in undercover online operations against child sex abusers. Language and Law/Linguagem e Direito, 4 (2), pp. 157-175.


One way in which linguists have been able to offer their expertise to undercover online policing in England and Wales is assisting police officers in the assumption of alternative identities in order to apprehend offenders in the context of the online sexual abuse and grooming of children. With reference to the historical Instant Messaging (IM) logs of a teenage female victim in a closed case of online sexual abuse, and the IM logs of trainee undercover officers (UCOs) as they attempt to impersonate her during a training task, we report here on work that draws on analyses of online interactions to develop a linguistic model that can be used to improve performance in identity disguise. We compare trainees’ performance before and after input from linguists in order to show how analysis at a number of linguistic levels can contribute to the training and support of specialist investigators of online child sex abuse.

Divisions: Languages & Social Sciences > Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics
Languages & Social Sciences > English
Additional Information: The articles published in this volume are covered by the Creative Commons “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs” license (see http://creativecommons.org). They may be reproduced in its entirety as long as Language and Law / Linguagem e Direito is credited, a link to the journal’s web page is provided, and no charge is imposed. The articles may not be reproduced in part or altered in form, or if a fee is changed, without the journal’s permission
Uncontrolled Keywords: Computer mediated discourse,online child sex abuse,undercover policing,identity disguise,authorship synthesis,assuming identities online
Full Text Link: http://nrl.nort ... ia.ac.uk/35893/
Related URLs: http://ojs.letr ... /view/3547/3315 (Publisher URL)
Published Date: 2018-09-25
Accepted Date: 2017-12-07
Authors: MacLeod, Nicola
Grant, Timothy D ( 0000-0002-5155-8413)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial

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Version: Accepted Version

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