Female Chat Names Generate More Threats
In the study, automated chat-bots and human researchers logged on to chat rooms under female, male and ambiguous screen names, such as Nightwolf, Orgoth and Stargazer.
Bots using female names averaged 100 malicious messages a day, compared with about four for those using male names and about 25 for those with ambiguous names. Researchers logging on themselves produced similar results.
Michel Cukier, the study's author and a professor at the
Cukier said the difficulty of writing computer programs, or scripts, that can tell the difference between males and females online shows the menacing messages were not generated automatically.
"These are real users who seem to look for female names," Cukier said.
The results are to be published in the proceedings of the
Parry Aftab, an online-safety expert, said she was not surprised.
"It's sad that we have to say to men and women, but especially women, `Don't give away too much information and that includes your gender,'" she said. "There's no reason for people to have to know that you're a woman."