07 April 2010

Deceit and technology

Talking of pictures, Jeff Hancock of Cornell University has given a fascinating talk at Harvard's Berkman Center. Hancock's team has analysed the photographs typically used on internet dating sites, as part of a series of studies of technology and deceit. Typically daters choose pictures that are 17 months out of date. They also lie systematically about their weight and height, but not about their age, which can be verified more easily and where the consequences of lying may be more damaging to the individual. Lies, across all media, are small but frequent, and are mediated across media, according to ease of detection (guilty, as charged, of texting 'on my way' when I've not even set out).

Hancock's team have also looked at the linguistic attributes of lies, which include less frequent use of the first person than in other contexts and use of negative language. It's possible this sort of analysis, alongside understanding the profile of contributors, could help authenticate user generated content.

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