Ruth Mitchell

Txt fingerprints to fight crime

Psychologists are hoping to conduct research into people’s text messaging styles to assist in criminal investigations.

Scientists at the University of Leicester are looking for volunteers to help them collate hundreds of text writing styles, can be used to identify an individual by the language and spelling used in messages. The study hopes to build on advances made two years ago, when detailed text analyses in a murder trial proved that a text message was sent by the murderer, not the victim as had previously been thought.

Dr. Tim Grant, a forensic linguist at the University of Leicester said: “As texting is both a relatively new mode of communication and a particularly informal way of using language, there is not a strong expectation that texters will follow linguistic conventions. This freedom therefore allows for significant individual differences in text messaging style, and this can be used to identify the text’s authors.”

Researchers are looking for at least one hundred volunteers to take part in the online study. Members of the public can become involved in the research by completing an anonymous online questionnaire at www.le.ac.uk/pc/aa/ked6/index.html

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