Forensic Sciences Research (Jul 2018)

Finding Dutch natives in online forums

  • Bernard van den Boom,
  • Cor J. Veenman

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 3, no. 3
pp. 230 – 239


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Law enforcement agencies have a restricted area in which their powers apply, which is called their jurisdiction. These restrictions also apply to the Internet. However, on the Internet, the physical borders of the jurisdiction, typically country borders, are hard to discover. In our case, it is hard to establish whether someone involved in criminal online behavior is indeed a Dutch citizen. We propose a way to overcome the arduous task of manually investigating whether a user on an Internet forum is Dutch or not. More precisely, we aim to detect that a given English text is written by a Dutch native author. To develop a detector, we follow a machine learning approach. Therefore, we need to prepare a specific training corpus. To obtain a corpus that is representative for online forums, we collected a large amount of English forum posts from Dutch and non-Dutch authors on Reddit. To learn a detection model, we used a bag-of-words representation to capture potential misspellings, grammatical errors or unusual turns of phrases that are characteristic of the mother tongue of the authors. For this learning task, we compare the linear support vector machine and regularized logistic regression using the appropriate performance metrics f1 score, precision, and average precision. Our results show logistic regression with frequency-based feature selection performs best at predicting Dutch natives. Further study should be directed to the general applicability of the results that is to find out if the developed models are applicable to other forums with comparable high performance.