Characterizing Key Players in Child Exploitation Networks on the Dark Net
This paper studies online child exploitation networks in which users communicate about illegal child pornography material. Law enforcement agencies are extremely interested in better understanding these networks and their key players. We utilize unique real-world network data sets collected from two different online discussion forums on the dark net. Our study of the network structure underlying these forums results in three contributions.
First, we propose an approach to identify key players using various centrality measures, allowing us to automatically rank users. Experiments show that our method closely resembles a network-agnostic ranking of users created by domain experts. Second, network metrics are able to characterize a large portion of the users, allowing us to distinguish between regular users, managers and technical moderators. Finally, analyzing the structural properties and distributions of these networks in both the one-mode and two-mode perspective reveals various interesting network-driven insights, such as anti-lurker and anti-law enforcement policies and new user application guidelines. In addition, we found that active users form an elite that participate in more specialized discussions.
KeywordsCriminal networks Key player identification Two-mode networks Child exploitation networks Network projection
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