AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Investigating the use of forensic stylistic and stylometric techniques in the analyses of authorship on a publicly accessible social networking site (Facebook)

by Colin Simon Michell

Institution: University of South Africa
Year: 0
Keywords: Facebook; Authorship attribution; Style markers; Idiolect; Forensic linguistics; Forensic stylistics; Stylometrics; WordSmith Tools
Record ID: 1466272
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10500/13324


This research study examines the forensic application of a selection of stylistic and stylometric techniques in a simulated authorship attribution case involving texts on the social networking site, Facebook. Eight participants each submitted 2,000 words of self-authored text from their personal Facebook messages, and one of them submitted an extra 2,000 words to act as the ‘disputed text’. The texts were analysed in terms of the first 1,000 words received and then at the 2,000-word level to determine what effect text length has on the effectiveness of the chosen style markers (keywords, function words, most frequently occurring words, punctuation, use of digitally mediated communication features and spelling). It was found that despite accurately identifying the author of the disputed text at the 1,000-word level, the results were not entirely conclusive but at the 2,000-word level the results were more promising, with certain style markers being particularly effective.