Search engines like Google and Bing might help us find information more easily by scanning a multitude of web pages, but what if you want to send out a message to only a specific group of people – and you don't want artificially intelligent bots to know what you said?
Text obfuscation is one way around this, and the idea is usually to change vowels into umlauts so that text filters can't read them. This has proved to be useful for people who want to break the rules on the internet – such as uploading pornographic films onto YouTube and hiding them using random Irish words, or hiding nude photos on Instagram using Arabic hashtags.
Service providers are wising up to this and training their bots to detect it. Also, there are companies that suck up posts on the internet and social media, in order to analyse the messages for anything that a government or company might want to know about citizens and consumers, like Dataminr, which analyses millions of tweets, or Lockheed Martin's Wisdom software program.
Igor Pavlov, a developer with video conferencing platform LyteSpark, decided to develop a better tool for text obfuscation called Spellfucker, which works by using a computer algorithm to deliberately misspell words in such a way that the brain can still work out what the message is saying.
To a bot, it looks like gibberish, but the human brain is able to figure out the message because the mind only reads each word as a whole, rather than each letter by itself.
Let's take these lines from the seminal Hello by Lionel Richie: "I've been alone with you inside my mind, and in my dreams I've kissed your lips a thousand times. I sometimes see you pass outside my door. Hello, is it me you're looking for?"
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Here are the same lines again, this time obfuscated by the tool: "I've bien alowne whyth jou eenside mi mynd, end een mi dreamse I've kysced jor lypse a thousend thymese. I sowmetymese scy jou pes outscyde mi dour. khelo, ees eet me jou're loukyngue phor?"
If you look carefully, you should find that you are still able to read what the words should be, meaning that it would be a great way to pass a secret message to someone and avoid the NSA, FBI, CIA, GCHQ or any other intelligence agency from spying on what you're saying online, sort of like a slightly more sophisticated version of Pig Latin.
Spellfucker can be used for free on its website or downloaded for free from GitHub if you'd like to experiment with the algorithm yourself.
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