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4 Tweets Can Reveal the Identity of an Anonymous Troll

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Urban cell towers.

University College London researchers have found that just four geotagged posts are sufficient to identify an anonymous account.


Researchers at University College London in the U.K. have found that four geotagged posts are sufficient to identify an anonymous account from a telephone company's database of 10 million customers.

In order to effectively route calls to a cellphone, telecommunications companies must know which cell towers are nearby, and this process creates a crude map of each customer's movements.

The researchers examined these "fingerprints" to determine if there was a risk users could be identified from their movements. They found that a single geolocated post from an anonymous account was enough to exclude 99.999% of the database, leaving about 100 possible users out of about 10 million records.

"Four location leaks are sufficient to uniquely identify 95% of the users in our dataset," says Nicolas Kourtellis at Telefonica Research in Spain, who worked on the project.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2018 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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