Anonymity & Privacy

Stylometry: how intelligence agencies track you by your writing style ✍️

Stylometry is an emerging threat by which anything you write can be statistically correlated to you.

What is Stylometry?

Stylometry is the study of writing styles and how they can be used to identify authors or groups of authors. It can be used for various purposes, including forensic investigations, plagiarism detection, and marketing analysis. However, stylometry can also be used for nefarious purposes, such as identifying anonymous authors or tracking the activities of dissidents or whistleblowers.

How does Stylometry work?

Stylometry works by analysing various linguistic features of a piece of writing, such as word choice, sentence structure, and punctuation. These features can be used to create a “linguistic fingerprint” that is unique to each author or group of authors. For example, one author might tend to use longer sentences with complex structures, while another author might use shorter sentences with simpler structures. By analysing these features, stylometry algorithms can identify patterns that are characteristic of a particular author or group of authors.

Stylometry algorithms can be trained on large corpora of text, such as books, articles, or social media posts, to identify common patterns and features. These algorithms can then be applied to new texts to identify the likely author or authors. Stylometry can also be used to detect changes in an author’s style over time, which can be useful in forensic investigations or detecting plagiarism.

How to counter stylometry

While stylometry can be a powerful tool, it is not foolproof. There are several ways to counter stylometry and protect your privacy and anonymity online.

Use a Pseudonym or Multiple Identities

One way to counter stylometry is to use a pseudonym or multiple identities when writing online. By using different writing styles and linguistic features for each identity, it becomes more difficult for stylometry algorithms to identify a common pattern or fingerprint. This can help protect your privacy and anonymity online, especially if you are engaged in activities that could attract unwanted attention.

Vary Your Writing Style

Another way to counter stylometry is to vary your writing style as much as possible. This can include using different sentence structures, varying the length of your sentences, and using different vocabulary and punctuation. By using a wide range of writing styles and features, it becomes more difficult for stylometry algorithms to identify a consistent pattern or fingerprint. Even writing a paragraph of text, and then running it through ChatGPT is a great way to reword your  work and thus contribute to reducing your stylometric profile. 

Use Stylometry Tools to Test Your Writing

There are several stylometry tools available online that you can use to test your writing and identify potential patterns or fingerprints. By using these tools, you can identify areas where you may be inadvertently revealing your writing style or linguistic features, and take steps to vary your style accordingly. Even running your text through ChatGPT and rewording it can be useful for countering stylometry. 

Use Encryption and Anonymity Tools

Finally, it’s important to use encryption and anonymity tools to protect your online activities from surveillance and monitoring. This can include using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic, using the Tor network to anonymise your internet activity, and using encrypted messaging apps to communicate securely.

Running your text or code through a tool such as ChatGPT can throw off stylometric analysis - just be careful not to include any sensitive information in your text!

Useful resources

There are resources available to help you counter the emerging threats posed by stylometry. They are:

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