Social Media Investigation: What is It, and Why Do You Need One?

How to Legally Use Forensic Evidence from Cloud
October 26, 2015
Your Resources for a Criminal Background Check
November 20, 2015
Show all

Social Media Investigation: What is It, and Why Do You Need One?

Ever since its inception, social media has been changing the private investigation landscape with the massive amount of information that can be gathered from various platforms. While there have been privacy and security issues regarding the use of social media, most people are still careless on what they put in their social media accounts, completely unaware that anything they post online can be used to investigate them.

What do they do?

Social media investigation is all about harnessing the information that is readily available online. Investigators will take a look at the information from the social media profiles of the subject of their investigation, sometimes even creating a fake identity in order to befriend or follow a person and be able to view their private information.

Why is this important?

We live in a time where oversharing in social media is the norm, with users completely unaware that they are compromising themselves by putting out a host of information for public consumption.

Job offers have been retracted after an applicant has failed a social media investigation, as recruiters have been known to use this method during the screening process. Drunken posts, profanity, and even spelling or grammatical errors can put off a diligent recruiter.

In personal injury cases, there have been times when the extent of an injury has been exaggerated in order to demand more money from the claim. The same thing can be said for fraudulent insurance claims. Social media is then used as an effective tool to collect evidence that contradicts what a claimant has been saying. For example, a person claiming to be a victim of a slip-and-fall incident can incriminate himself by posting an Instagram photo of him doing a strenuous physical activity.

In family law, social media can also be used to document activity that can prove that a person is unfit to be a parent, or is having an extramarital affair. These kinds of documentation can then be used as leverage in a child custody battle or a divorce settlement proceedings.

Another advantage of using social media is that its geo-location tools and check-in features allow investigators to locate a missing person based on real-time and historical check-ins made on that missing person’s social media profile.

What you do get?

Social media presents a wealth of information that is easily accessible and readily available. This is also a cost-effective way of conducting a private investigation because using these sites are absolutely free—all you need to have is an Internet connection and a device.

Using this method will also allow you to understand your own rights to privacy. You become more aware of your vulnerability when it comes to posting stuff online. You also learn to protect your social media accounts by making them private, and most importantly, you learn that not everything needs to be posted online.

By using social media investigation, you also achieve closure and peace of mind by knowing the truth for certain. Your case is resolved using the least amount of expenses.

Surprising fact about social media

No one really bothers to read the fine print. Who has time to read up the fine print and legalese contained in contracts and insurance policies anyway, much less the terms and conditions that one has to accept before creating a social media account? A study shows that it will take at least 54 billion hours for a person to read the privacy policy of all the websites that a person visits annually. This is enough of a compelling reason as to why a lot of people have become careless when it comes to safeguarding their privacy online. These websites aren’t exactly making it easy on us to understand the fine print.

The good news is that more and more people are learning how to post responsibly on social media. But while there are news junkies, selfie addicts, and oversharers out there who continue to thoughtlessly post about their activities and purchases online, there will always be recruiters, insurance companies, private investigation agencies, and law enforcement that will continue to harness the power of social media in order to collect evidence or solve a crime.