New Technique’s Gonna Find Out Who’s Spammy or Nice

Jun 11, 2009

By Lizzie Buchen with Wired Science You are how you e-mail: A new technique can tell people apart using only the timestamps in their Sent folders. In the interactive, real-time world of Twitter, blogs and World of Warcraft, timing is one of the most salient aspects of social behavior. Now, researchers at Northwestern University and Yahoo Research in New York show that they can distinguish and categorize people based solely on the timestamps of their e-mails, paving the way for smarter advertisements, spam filters and social networking sites. “You can’t track everything an individual is doing at every hour of the day,” said Dean Malmgren of Northwestern University, lead author of the study posted May 11 on the pre-publication physics repository, arXiv. “But this shows that with just a snapshot of what they’re doing — knowing what time they send their e-mails — you can actually get meaningful information.”

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