Digital identities and trust in extra-judicial environments - a Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies approach


The presentation will discuss the use of Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies (CADS) as an interdisciplinary methodology in order to explore how identity of individuals and groups is generated in digital environments, with a focus on how trust is established through digital interaction among individuals that operate extra-judicially. Two case studies are selected to this end: selling drugs on the Dark Net and sexually grooming children online. Whilst clearly different in terms of the illegal activities performed, both contexts centrally involve efforts to generate trust discursively. In crypto-drug markets, vendors seek to enhance their reputation within a highly competitive environment by, for instance, offering advice about avoiding being scammed by other users / providers (Lorenzo-Dus and Di Cristofaro 2018). Similarly, sexual groomers of children invest considerable discursive effort in projecting self-identities as trustworthy adults (for they do not necessarily pretend to be minors), who ‘genuinely care’ about the children they prey on (Lorenzo-Dus et al 2016; Chiang and Grant 2018; Lorenzo-Dus, Kinzel and Di Cristofaro, forthcoming). In addition to presenting the key results of the case studies, the presentation will reflect upon the role that trust plays in strategies of inclusion and exclusion in both online and offline communities.

16 Sep 2019 13:00
Università degli studi di Catania, Italy

References Chiang, E & Grant, TD (2018). ‘Deceptive identity performance: Offender moves and multiple personas in online child abuse conversations’ Applied Linguistics. DOI:10.1093/applin/amy007

Lorenzo-Dus, N., Izura, C., & Pérez-Tattam, R. (2016). ‘Understanding grooming discourse in computer-mediated environments’. Discourse, Context & Media, 12, 40-50.

Lorenzo-Dus, N., & Di Cristofaro, M. (2018). ‘I know this whole market is based on the trust you put in me and I don’t take that lightly’: Trust, community and discourse in crypto-drug markets. Discourse & Communication, 12(6), 608-626.

Lorenzo-Dus, N, Kinzel, A. & Di Cristofaro, M. (forthcoming). ‘The Communicative Modus Operandi of Online Child Sexual Groomers: Recurring Patterns in their Language Use’

Matteo Di Cristofaro
Researcher, Lecturer

My research interests include language analysis, cognitive sciences, and Artificial Intelligence.