Our Best Social Media Investigation Tool enables you to find, collect and analyze social media data to expose the truth. With the click of a button, organizations can collect email addresses or social media screen names of individuals or organizations of interest.-Investigative Data -With our data collection capabilities, you can search by keyword using Boolean logic to refine searches, identify relevant individuals and organizations on social media who are related to your investigation by gathering their publicly available information, including email addresses and telephone numbers.
This white paper provides an overview of the best free tools and paid tools for social media investigation.
Reverse Image Search
With Google’s reverse image search, you can scour the Internet for any instances in which a particular photo has been published. It will find the exact matching photo or any similar photo that has been posted on Facebook, Instagram, blogs or anywhere else on the Internet, for that matter.
It’s not perfect, but it’s an incredibly powerful tool if you are trying to find social profiles of individuals or websites in the deep dark web.
How can this help you? Most people don’t bother changing the profile picture for the various social networks they use, often using the same exact photo and posting the exact same pictures.
Over the course of the past several years, I have found people on pornography websites, people using pseudonyms and even a collection of completely fake profiles to try to scam people out of money.
[Tineye is also another reverse image search, but I have found it to be much less successful at finding photographs than Google’s reverse image search.]
Facebook Graph Search
Facebook is the thousand-pound gorilla of social media sites. Luckily for investigators, Facebook has done a really poor job explaining their privacy policies in plain English, leaving heaps of information available to the public, unbeknownst to them.
Last year, Facebook announced Facebook Graph Search, which is effectively a search engine within Facebook to help find information more easily. So, for example, if you need to find someone with the name Lucinda who lived near Canton, Ohio, you would type “People named ‘Lucinda’ who live near Canton, Ohio” in the Facebook search bar. Simple as that.
To find someone, you can use a variety of search terms, such as:
- Friends of people named “ﬁrst.name last.name”
- Photos of people named “first.name last.name”
- People who have visited “place name”
It’s an incredibly powerful tool, one that has come in quite handy lately. [SMI Aware has a great primer on how to utilize Facebook Graph Search more effectively.]
Bonus tip: Even if the person you are looking for has blocked himself or herself from public view, you may be able to find him or her through family members.
Spokeo has been around the block for a few years. Its main benefit is that it can search 60 of the top social media sites to determine whether a particular email address or person is linked to a social media profile utilizing an email address. This is especially helpful when the person may be using some type of pseudonym.
Spokeo doesn’t always work. In fact, it rarely does. But when it works, it can be an absolute gold mine.
This may come as a surprise to you, but not everyone uses his or her real name on the Internet. People use an alter ego, so to speak. While the person you are searching for may go by Tom Jones in real life, he may go by MrLions100 on the Internet. It certainly makes it more difficult to track down these people, but one thing we have going for us is that people are creatures of habit. Once they’ve got a username, they usually stick with it. So if a person is known as MrLions100 on Instagram, there is a good chance that he is known as MrLions100 on many other sites as well.
That’s where Knowem comes in. With Knowem, you can search over 500 popular social networks to see whether that particular name has been taken. If you get a hit with Knowem, you’ve now got a whole new rabbit hole to go down.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Instagram, with more than 20 billion photos, is worth 20 trillion words. With more than 200 million active users, Instagram is a phenomenal (and growing) source for investigators. The trouble is that Instagram was built as a mobile platform, and unlike Facebook, it doesn’t have a very good “desktop” version to search and review with.
That’s where a tool such as Instagram for Chrome can harness the power of searching Instagram on your desktop. We recently conducted an investigation to try to find individuals who were connected to a particular individual and a particular address. Utilizing Instagram for Chrome, we were able search hashtags, GPS tags and user tags in order to develop a full picture of close confidants and groups of individuals who were a regular part of this individual’s entourage.
Everyone loves the magic bullet or the secret sauce. But you know what? It’s not always that easy. Sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned time and sweat.
The social web is not structured in a way that lets you click a few buttons and have everything at your fingertips.
If you really want to know what someone has been saying in his or her 42,301 tweets, you are going to have to read them. All of them.
What is it for? Collection and preservation of social media and other online content.
WebPreserver is an automated forensic preservation tool for social media and web content that can literally complete weeks of evidence collection in under an hour. Its auto-expand feature automatically expands long collapsed posts, comment threads, and replies, ensuring hidden content is captured without you having to manually expand these sections. WebPreserver can even capture entire websites, Instagram accounts, and videos with two simple clicks. WebPreserver is a Chrome plug-in that can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store, but you need to purchase a license through the WebPreserver website.
What is it for? Identifying the latest social media platforms and apps.
Have you ever heard of Peanut, Caffeine, or Steemit? What about Ello, Triller, or WT Social? While it can feel as if platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube dominate the social media landscape, new apps and platforms are being released all the time. Makeawebsitehub.com regularly updates a list of the latest social media apps, which can be very useful for expanding your online investigations and finding those lesser-known platforms that might be hiding useful evidence.
What is it for? To identify personal, professional, and social information online.
Pipl Search is arguably the most sophisticated people search engine available to investigators. Pipl collects information from Internet sources like public records, listings, directories, and online archives—but it also boasts its own exclusive sources. Pipl has global coverage, with over three billion online identities and 25 billion individual identity records at its disposal. All you need is a single data point (like a name, phone number, or email address) and Pipl will quickly provide you with all available data for that person. This information can include associated social media accounts, all known telephone numbers, physical addresses, places of employment, educational history, etc.
Social media investigation tools are social media management software that gives business owners, marketing managers, researchers, investigative teams and others the ability to discover and extract valuable data from multiple social media channels. They also deal with managing and developing social media campaigns on different channels of social media and provide support for more than one social network.