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SOCMINT - The Benefits And Challenges Of Social Media - Part II

In the same way people may behave differently if they know they are being watched by CCTV or under physical surveillance, online behaviour can be carefully curated, allowing users to easily control their online persona or obfuscate their activity, especially if they sense they are under scrutiny. Below are some considerations for online investigators wanting to remain discreet...

1. What does the platform tell the user about those interested in their profile?

Social media exists to connect people. If an investigator is continuously checking out someone’s profile, it is likely that the social media platform’s algorithms will start suggesting the investigator and their subject of interest as 'friends'. Certain platforms tell the subject of interest that another account has visited their profile or viewed their content. Make sure you’ve researched the platform you are working on and understand what traces you are leaving.

2. Seeking the less obvious (and perhaps less "locked down")

Users that are trying to minimise their online footprint are quick to lock down their profiles on the more obvious platforms such as Facebook and Instagram – but what about those accounts on smaller platforms, or forgotten accounts which may not have been set to private? Alternative social media profiles may provide some useful leads.

3. Geolocation is dead – or is it?

Gone are the days when users used to always geolocate their uploaded content by default, or platforms would give open access to user location data. However, certain avenues still exist (Snap Map, nearby functions on TikTok or Telegram...) and let’s not forget about the multiple location clues often present in images or videos, like the (actually fake) recent example of the pizza box which was alleged to have tipped off the authorities on the whereabouts of Andrew Tate.


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