Best Social Media Investigation Tools

The social media investigation toolkit is a comprehensive collection of software and services that can aid you in your investigation. A webinar on the documentation of evidence is included as well as case studies on how these tools can be utilized by investigators across multiple such as such as law enforcement, security, counterintelligence, insurance claims and many more. Best Social Media Investigation Tools

A collection of Free Tools to help you find what you need on social media. This list describes the top free web-based tools for social media investigation and information gathering.

 WebPreserver

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. See how the tool works by visiting this page—or simply check out the video below.

Social Searcher

Social Searcheris a real-time social media monitoring engine. It allows you to search for users, keywords, and trends across 11 different social media platforms. It searches for content in social networks in real-time and provides deep analytics data. Users can search without logging in for publicly posted information on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Flickr, Dailymotion, and Vimeo. Free users can also save their searches and set up email alerts. Premium features include saving social mentions history, exporting data, API integration, advanced analytics, and immediate email notifications.

Inflact

Inflactis a multi-purpose service, which includes an excellent tool for Instagram searches. Influencers, bloggers and regular users can choose tools based on their needs. It offers free and paid services for building a social media audience, managing content and communicating with clients. And it’s great for investigators, too!

Twitter Advanced Search

Twitter Advanced Searchis available when you’re logged into twitter.com. It allows you to tailor search results to specific date ranges and people. You can also search words, phrases and hashtags; what’s trending in particular locations; and then see profiles posting on the topic.

TikTok

TikTokhas taken off in the last couple of years, and while it’s generally just good fun and a lucrative platform for some folks to make money, TikTok is also used by criminal organizations as a platform for their propaganda, drug sales and a way to connect with potential victims. Searching TikTok is very straightforward: if you’re looking for a specific profile, use TikTok.com/@ and then a username. If you’re looking at a particular hashtag, enter TikTok.com/tag/ and then the keywords or phrases you’re searching for. Searches on TikTok don’t require a login.

Social Bearing

Social Bearingis an open search and statistics tool. It can analyze Twitter mentions, find top tweets, hashtags, trends or Twitter conversations; show most popular tweets containing specific pictures or links; uncover facts; find geolocated tweets; and analyze any user’s timeline.

Browser Beware

These days, it’s easy to find anyone or anything online. That’s important to remember in terms of what you can find out about your suspects, but also in terms of what they can find out about you. Many sites that offer you information on people and organizations are known to sell registration information, which of course is not desirable for law enforcement investigators.

Maintaining anonymity is essential for any online investigation. While performing your research on the web, law enforcement professionals need to be able to control what investigative subjects can learn about them by what their browser discloses (hint: it’s a lot).

Makeawebsitehub

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.      

Pipl Search

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.

TinEye

What is it for? Reverse image search to find the origin of an online image. 

TinEye is an incredibly simple but useful online tool that allows you to conduct a reverse image search.  All you need to do is upload an image to TinEye, and the tool will tell you where it appears on the Internet. So if, for example, you have an image associated with a Facebook profile, you can use TinEye to see where else that picture is used online—perhaps on another social media platform like Strava, YouTube, or TikTok. Have a look at the tutorial below to see how TinEye can help you find the origin of an image posted to social media.

Spokeo

Spokeo has organized over 12 billion records from thousands of data sources into easy-to-understand reports that include available contact info, location history, photos, social media accounts, family members, court records, work information and much more.

Accurint

Accurint is part of LexisNexis and serves as the most widely accepted locate-and-research tool available to government, law enforcement and commercial customers. Its proprietary data-linking technology returns search results in seconds to the user’s desktop.

Exif Viewer Chrome extension

Exif Vieweris a simple tool to read the EXIF data from your JPG images. There’s lots of helpful information held in image files: Some photos have GPS data and others contain the camera’s shutter count, which helps identify the type of camera used to take the image. This utility lets you open a JPG image from your computer or a URL to view its EXIF data. You can also right-click on a JPG image in a browser and select “EXIF Image Info” from the context menu.

Using social media in law enforcement investigations

For online investigators, social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or TikTok could be a treasure trove of information. But just like traditional detectives, investigators must be extra careful to maintain anonymity and keep their identity and intent hidden while researching social media. Not only could a clumsy move spook the bad guys into going deeper undercover, it could also trigger retaliation (cyber or material), putting law enforcement agents at risk.

Conclusion

The FBI’s social media investigation team is made up of social media analysts across the FBI, including foreign language translators. They all have a few things in common, though: they are all officially associated with the FBI and they are all passionate about using social media as a means to investigate crimes.

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