The rise in social networking activity among the world’s citizens is helping private investigators quickly root out fraud insurance claims, check bogus backgrounds, undertake good due diligence on companies and check for missing debt payments.
Facebook and Twitter are experiencing massive growth in active users, amount of time spent on the networks and influence among users. Twitter is the fastest growing social network, with its fastest growing demographic in the 55-64 age range. Facebook is launching new initiatives in search and advertising to bring in more users and brands. Between these leaders, Google Plus, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and others, these social networks are providing new search capabilities for international investigation companies to uncover individuals via these sites.
Facebook’s Graph Search has expanded so much in recent months since its early 2013 launch that it’s now become a useful tool for PIs everywhere. Graph Search utilizes more social dynamics in the overall search now, helping PIs to tie together user’s social connections with various searches. Depending on the looseness of a Facebook user’s account settings, anyone searching for the target can find photos, locations, work entities and much more. It’s a goldmine of information for PIs.
Here’s a nifty comparison by The Atlantic Wire between the recently uncovered search tool from the NSA called XKeyscore and Facebook’s Graph Search. It shows that using different targeting methods, these two search tools are remarkably similar in approach and execution.
So what’s the best way for private investigators to seek out their targets using social media? Well it helps to be on social media first. Here’s a quick checklist:
1. Set up profiles on Twitter and Facebook: You’ll need personal profiles, but seek to set up a phony profile. No need to draw attention to your name and occupation. Creating a social entity to use across networks should serve fine for your online sleuthing. Keep in mind that Facebook has safeguards against using fake accounts. At last count, Facebook mentioned about 85 million phony accounts.
2. Populate the sites: Once active, populate the sites with common pics and info that are relatively untraceable. Be generic in your descriptions: think to post inoffensive and bland status updates to throw off the Facebook privacy watchdogs. In doing this, you’ll create longevity and sustainability for your FB profile.
3. Start Your Searches: Using Twitter and Facebook search tools, narrow down your searches to your client demands. Are you looking for a guy who has posted injury claims with an insurance company, but whose Facebook status shows that he’s otherwise enjoying himself without injury? Use search terms for the city, town, co-workers you’re able to locate and activities the target might be involved in (bowling leagues, professional groups, etc.). Following the digital trail should be able to give you a clean look at the target’s posted activities.
4. Act normally on social networks: As you draw nearer, re-tweet a post or two on Twitter, or “Like” the target’s status. As you get to be closer on social networks, you’ll have a better chance of determining the target’s daily routines, and perhaps a good chance of bringing a summons or court order to the client.
5. De-activate profiles: Remember to clean up your own profiles after particular jobs. It doesn’t make sense to have a lingering Facebook or Twitter profile out on the web after a certain job is complete.
Image used with permission via Flickr user Esocialmediashop.
You’re mastering Facebook and how it can help you connect with customers. But do you have a solid sense of who’s following your company on Twitter, or just a rough gut estimate? It’s important to track your Twitter followers, especially when brands, products and reputation are at stake. After all, these people are your brand advocates, and they will be the ones interacting with you in your feed. how can you grow your following if you don’t know who’s already on board?
Twitter offers tools to help companies understand the platform and build money-making opportunities. You can measure the referral traffic from Twitter links to your website, analyze your strengths and weaknesses and search for your targets and start following them. Get going, because like Facebook, the Twitterverse waits for no one.
Build a Strong Feed
There’s no substitute for quality, relevant tweets that are varied and responsive. A good example is the iAcquire marketing feed from Twitter. The Phoenix-based content marketing company mixes company news tweets with industry news, world highlights and personal observations, which drives users to its site and helps generate leads. Links to freebies on your site and call-to-action links can accomplish this, too.
A caveat: Constantly tweeting about your company’s wins is like a friend’s incessant bragging about his stock. It’s fine every once in a while, but not everyday.
There are basic tools available that help you analyze your Twitter followers. Try out Twitalyzer, TweetCharts or Simply Measured’s free twitter analysis tools to get a solid understanding of who’s reading and retweeting you. The more you respond to brand mentions, the better these tools can demonstrate the interaction between Twitter follower and brand. Or, try building a graph search on TweetStats.
Other services that help clients with Twitter analytics and how best to understand your Twitter followers include Demographics Pro, FollowerWonk and Tweriod. These services take into account where the tweets originate, the follower’s online influence, gender, frequency of use and more.
Understand the Value of Advertising
The importance of understanding your Twitter followers better is also becoming an integral part of the overall Twitter strategy for advertisers. The network recently announced a program that targets Twitter users’ Web activities outside Twitter, including checking out shopping sites and watching videos. It then tailors its advertising based on the sites users visit, a practice Facebook launched earlier this year. Continue to use hashtags to enhance your targeted advertising efforts.
Not on Twitter Yet?
If you’re among the companies not yet on Twitter, now is the time to start—but you need to know what you want to accomplish in doing so.
Companies use Twitter to connect with clients, organizations and influencers in their industries. What are your reasons? Do you want to:
- Connect with customers
- Build product and brand awareness
- Track industry trends
- Push traffic to your website
- Analyze competitors
- Recruit industry talent
Finally, do you have the time and talent to manage your feed? If you are lacking resources to manage your social media accounts properly, maybe it’s time to hire a social media strategist.
Google Glass — it’s on the frontier of what seems like a futuristic approach to technology. This wearable gadget is in many ways, similar to a smartphone, with the obvious difference involving an ability actually to wear Google Glass while you use it.
Prospective owners have long dreamed of all the things they might do with the gadget once it’s perched squarely on their faces. And while there are plenty of opportunities from the new technology, a humorous event that took place recently ensures that watching porn will not be among them. That’s right — pornography isn’t allowed on Glass. How on Earth will the device’s users survive?
The First Porn App
For a very short window of time, there was, in fact, pornography on Glass. A software developer called MiKandi released an app with which users could browse explicit sexual content. Those expressing interest also were able to upload their own pornographic content for other users to view. This ability did not last long, however, with Google shutting down the app after just a few hours. Soon after, the Internet giant revised its policies to ensure explicit content was not made available for users.
The Privacy Concerns
The main impetus for the banning of MiKandi and other explicit apps was one of privacy and security. With smartphones, it’s generally easy to tell if someone is recording a video or taking a snapshot to post online. Thus, it is also easier to ensure that consent is given before such content is posted. However, this isn’t the case with Google’s new project. Because of the wearable nature of the device, it is safe to assume that users may potentially capture explicit images or videos without the subject ever knowing.
Such apps are very common on smartphones, allowing users to garner information on an individual simply by taking a picture of him or her and uploading it to the required app. But again, it’s easier to tell when someone is trying to use a facial recognition app on a smartphone as opposed to on a wearable device.
API and Innovation
Of course, pornography and facial recognition aren’t the only ways to utilize new technology in an innovative manner. It just happens to be the route taken by MiKandi. While Google’s policies for its Glassware may now be somewhat more strict than those associated with smartphones, there is still plenty of room for using wearable gadgets in new and exciting ways. As internetserviceproviders.com explains, the current possession of Google’s API by several third-party outfits means that users will be able to download apps that diverge significantly from what they’ve come to expect on smartphones. So, while there may be some limits set forth by the Google Glassware policy, there will be enough opportunities for unique use to offset such limitations.
Adult content may be banned on Google Glass, but in all likelihood, that will not stop this device from being a huge hit among tech junkies. Get ready to be astounded by the creative ways in which Glassware can be used to enhance everyday life!
Image by Ted Eytan pursuant to the terms of his Creative Commons license.
Our Facebook personas can veer from who we authentically are and the actual reality of our personal lives. On the positive side, Facebook connects people who have once shared an experience. You can become more involved in the lives of your long-distance cousin and her young family or easily stay in touch with an old friend. On the negative side, Facebook is a space where people want to display the best of themselves and their lives, which can arouse feelings of envy, loneliness and inadequacy within outsiders. As you nonchalantly scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, photos of your friend’s birthday party pop up. As you click through fun pictures of friends dancing at festive parties full of lavish birthday decorations, your heart sinks — because you weren’t invited.
TIME Magazine’s Heartland reports that scientists from two German universities concluded that after studying 600 Facebook users, “one in three felt worse after visiting the site — especially if they viewed vacation photos.” Researchers discovered that users who didn’t post their own content were also more likely to feel discontent. It seems to be like emotional self-sabotage when people have negative experiences by logging onto Facebook, yet continue to do so.
In addition to feelings of social exclusion, you may subconsciously make comparisons to yourself with other people as you are subjected to posts and photos. Drawing comparisons can cause insecurities and make you question yourself. Feelings of loneliness and self-pity can surface just by seeing a simple Facebook status that changes from “single” to “into a relationship.” Perhaps you read a status about an old friend getting a job promotion, and suddenly you’re comparing your professional worth to someone whom you probably haven’t talked to in years. Commonly, young people also internally respond to engagements, wedding photos and pregnancy announcements with negative feelings and virtual, societal pressure to move on to that next step in life. Just as unhealthily, Facebook serves as a tool for many to be passive aggressive and indirectly spiteful. To be on the receiving end of a message meant to hurtfully get your attention can feel like a dagger in the chest.
Facebook is Subjective
According to Reuters, Institute Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University research expert, Hanna Krasnova, said based on observations on negative social networking experiences, “people will then leave Facebook or at least reduce their use of the site.”
People experience anger, resentment, stress and jealousy over all types of Facebook timeline activities such as:
- Vacation photos
- Number of birthday wishes
- Number of “likes” and comments on postings
- Family happiness
- Physical attractiveness
- Work accomplishments
If Facebook feels like a toxic digital environment that personally affects you, eliminate those negative feelings by taking control of your own behavior. Deactivate your account, visit the site less often or make an effort to not internalize specific types of content that creates unhealthy emotions. Users who use Facebook as a platform for self-promotion are most likely to share content on Facebook that will “portray themselves in a better light.” In that case, photos and posts can be like judging a book by its cover. Things aren’t always as they seem.
After the profile and then Timeline, Facebook has announced its latest innovation: Graph Search, a project born way back in early 2011, represents the third major change which we experience Facebook’s version of the web. We knew this was bound to happen: since it started, the social network has lacked a sturdy search function, a way to take full advantage of Social Graph.
Remember that hot chick you met at the hotel party who makes pottery and lives in Manhattan? Now with Facebook’s coveted Graph Search, users can search for Friday night dates, music recommendations or job opportunities from personal network(s). Some say Google should be worried. Others aren’t as impressed with these search functions. The tool is still in beta, but there’s no shortage of opinions on how this social search can be used and whether it will catch on.
How Does It Work?
Facebook’s search tool is based on two parts. The first is a natural-language processor and the second is an internal-retrieval tool. And, according to Graph Search developer Lars Rasmussen, one of the key components to launching Graph Search out of beta will be the ability to index all of the posts and comments people have shared on Facebook.