Any investigator worth his salt these days knows that harnessing the power of the social web is a must. With so much information being shared by people via their social media accounts, the amount of data you can harness just by knowing what tools to use is impossible to ignore – and you shouldn’t be oblivious to it!
There has been instances when the information which is publicly available via social media has served as the deciding evidence for building a case and closing it.
Don’t believe it?
In fact, one large-scale investigation about a certain executive of a certain company was done like that. It did take about a hundred hours for the team of investigators to put together a compelling story – but they did it, all thanks to their social media know-how.
So how do you use social media to help you out with your investigations? It’s no secret at all! Here are some tools and techniques you can use to launch and complete a successful social media investigation.
Reverse Image Search
There is nothing you cannot find via Google reverse image search if the image is publicly available or has been ‘published’ on the web. For real? Yes! Right click on any photo and scroll to ‘search google for this image’. You’ll see if an image is legit, stolen, or if there are people connected or tagged to it. Yes, that includes Instagram posts, blogs, and Facebook posts!
Is this tool perfect? Nope. Not by any means. One thing for sure is that this is better than Tineye though is limited to photos which are publicly available and indexed; but hey, it’s free!
So how do you use this? Ever ‘dated’ anyone from overseas or not sure if the item you’re buying online is from a legit seller? Do the Google reverse image search and it will save you from a lot of headache (and heartache) in the long run.
Facebook Graph Search
With the information being shared at Facebook, this platform is a mine field of data for internet-savvy investigators. How so? All you have to do is enter a few words and some clicks later, bham! There’s your information.
How does this happen? You see, Facebook is not very good with privacy and very few people really bother to check their privacy settings, letting valuable information slip just like that to people (like you) who shouldn’t have access to it.
With the graph search, finding someone and finding information about someone is relatively easy. All you have to do is enter the name and city and you’ll be given a list of people with that data.
This really is an incredibly powerful tool. Imagine that you can even find someone just by knowing their first name and the places they frequent. Yes, it also applies to places like hotels and bars if that person checked in at Facebook when visiting; isn’t that amazing?
Oh, and if that person somehow have set his or her Facebook profile to private, you can still find out information about them by searching via friends or family members. Information gold mine indeed!
Hey, we cannot mention Facebook without mentioning Instagram, right? A picture is worth a thousand words after all. Now, imagine more than 20 billion photos (and growing), that’s more than 20 trillion words! Information overload!
Instagram has more than 200 million active users, all posting photos at least a few times a week or selfies at least a few times a day (hey, some people are vain, and their vanity is your tool!).
The only problem with Instagram is that it is not super friendly for desktops users as it is built for mobile use. However, there’s something called ‘Instagram for Chrome’ which enables you to search for GPS tags, user tags, and hash tags to find someone and their ‘inner circle’ of friends and family. This will come in handy when doing your Facebook search for those with private profiles.
Spokeo doesn’t always work, but when it does, oh boy, you’ve hit jackpot!
How does Spokeo investigations work? Well, Spokeo can search the top social media websites if you have a certain person’s email address. Yes, it is THAT easy.
So when do you use this? If you suspect someone is cheating or is using a fake name, or have multiple identities and profiles, all you need is that person’s email address and you’ll find out what you need to find out…unless if that person is smart enough to use different emails for his or her ‘other activities’.
Speaking of people who are not using their real names, Knowem is the tool to use. How?
Well, it just so happens that psychologically speaking, people are creatures of habit. They often stick to their username or internet handle through the years. For instance, if someone is mrinvestigator19 on a certain site, you can bet he is mrinvestogator19 on other websites as well.
Knowem is fantastic because it can help you search more than 500 well known social media networks to track down someone. Sure, sometimes someone else may use a certain username but chances are, you’ll find some juicy tidbits just by using Knowem.
To Sum it Up…
Are these 5 tools and sites all you’ll ever need for an epic social media investigation? Of course not! You’ll still have to use lots of the old-fashioned sweat and time (make that total finger workout!) to find what you need. Think reading hundreds or thousands of tweets, browsing awkward selfies, and reading through the everyday drama plus bits and pieces of life shared via social media. This is where a little bit of internet-savviness won’t hurt and of course, you’ll have to be social media literate.
If you are looking for a private investigator in Toronto, contact us today!