The answer is YES. Social media can be an extremely valuable investigative tool.
Data generated by social media users can aid in all types of investigations including fraud, theft, background and integrity checks, workers’ comp claims, surveillance, insurance and corporate investigation.
Provided, of course, that you know what information you are looking for and where and how to look for it.
And while this may sound easy enough it often isn’t.
Social media networks are a goldmine of digital information. But they are also messy and extremely tedious to search through.
When social media sites first appeared on the internet they had one purpose – to connect us with our friends and family.
Today, they do that and much more. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest have become an integral part of human life.
There are dozens of social media platforms used by individuals, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, government and other institutions to communicate, share information and promote their business.
It is estimated that there are more than 3.5 billion active social media users across the world. And that number keeps going up every day.
Here are 10 fascinating stats about social media use that you probably didn’t know:
With this ever-growing number of users and online activity, social media platforms are a treasure trove for private investigators, special investigation units and law enforcement.
But the trick, of course, is knowing how to comb through the vast amounts of digital data and zero in on what you are looking for. If you don’t have the right tools and expertise, it can feel like you are searching for a needle in the haystack.
Here’s some good news: Unintentionally, users leave little crumbs of information every time they use social media. Whether they are posting photos or videos, tagging friends in pictures, engaging in conversations or checking-in to places, they are leaving a digital footprint.
While many users adjust their privacy settings to hide their online activity from the public eye, oftentimes there are bits and pieces of information that slip through the cracks.
For example, many social media services make users’ posts available to anyone on the internet by default. And a lot of times, users don’t bother to check their privacy settings or simply forget to turn them on.
On the other hand, some people are perfectly fine with their online posts being shared publicly. In some cases, people use social media to promote themselves or their business. And there are plenty of people who like the attention and popularity they receive from sharing content with the broader community.
This type of online behavior opens a door to a wealth of information for investigators. However, understanding how to search the web, analyze and collate data and turn it into usable evidence that will hold up in an investigation is a whole different ball game.
Publicly available social media information is often difficult to find, validate and organize, even for a seasoned private investigator. And on top of that it drains valuable time and resources.
Comprehensive and frequent online searches can be challenging for private investigators as they often have budget constraints, shortage of trained manpower, as well as lack of the right tools and software for social media searches.
That’s where professional social media reporting and data analysis companies like Social Discovery Corp can help. We combine sophisticated software with highly trained social media analysts to deliver accurate and actionable social media background reports.
To learn more, sign up and see how you can improve your investigations with social media reporting.