CS graduate student Rebecca Portnoff (adviser: David Wagner) has developed the first algorithm to identify adult ads tied to human trafficking rings by linking the ads to public information from Bitcoin — the primary payment method for online sex ads. “The technology we’ve built finds connections between ads,” says Portnoff. “Is the pimp behind that post for Backpage also behind this post in Craigslist? Is he the same man who keeps receiving Bitcoin for trafficked girls? Questions like these are answerable only through more sophisticated technological tools – exactly what we’ve built in this work – that link ads together using payment mechanisms and the language in the ads themselves.” Her team will present their findings this month at the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining.