A Web-Forum Free of Disguised Profanity by Means of Sequence Alignment
Profanity is the use of offensive, obscene, or abusive vocables or expressions in public conversations. A big source of conversations in text format nowadays are digital media such as forums, blogs, or social networks where malicious users are taking advantage of their ample worldwide coverage to disseminate undesired profanity aimed at insulting or denigrating opinions, names, or trademarks. Lexicon-based exact comparisons are the most common filters used to prevent such attacks in these media; however, ingenious users are disguising profanity using transliteration or masking of the original vocable while still conveying its intended semantic (e.g. by writing piss as P!55 or p.i.s.s), hence defeating the filter. Recent approaches to this problem, inspired in the sequence alignment methods from comparative genomics in bioinformatics, have shown promise in unmasking such guises. Building upon those techniques we have developed an experimental Web forum (ForumForte) where user comments are cleaned of disguised profanity. In this paper we discuss briefly the techniques and main engineering artefacts obtained during the developing of the software. Empirical evidence reveals filtering effectiveness between 84% and 97% at vocable level depending on the length of the profanity (with more than four letters), and 86% at sentence level when tested in two sets of real user-generated-comments written in Spanish and Portuguese. These results suggest the suitability of the software as a language-independent tool.
web forum, profanity detection, text analysisforos web, detección de obscenidades, análisis de texto
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