In an OSINT investigation, you may need to a closer look at a person’s social media accounts. Once an account has been found, investigating the account is of course not that complicated. But sometimes the difficulty lays in finding an account. This blog can help you find a person on social media.
How numbers can help you
Last week Newcom Research & Consultancy published “The Annual National Social Media Survey” describing trendsin social media in the Netherlands. This report describes which platforms are currently (read: in 2021) used most often. And what the trends are in risers and fallers.
Anyway, what’s the use of these numbers? The answer is actually very simple. By looking at the figures, you know which platforms are used most in The Netherlands. And if you know which platforms are widely used, there is a good chance that the person you are looking for is also on one of these platforms.
To give an example: below you can see the most used social media platforms in 2021 according to Newcom’s research. In this overview you can see that WhatsApp would be used by approximately 12.5 million people in The Netherlands. This might be important information that you can use in your investigation. Suppose you are investigation a Dutch telephone number, then there is a considerable chance that this Dutch telephone number is linked to an account on WhatsApp.
Tailor your investigation to your target
Apart from the total number of users in The Netherlands, you could also tailor your investigation to your subject. For example, if you look at TikTok, you could say that TikTok is the least interesting of the above platforms. But the opposite can be true, especially when you look at what the target audience of TikTok is: 42% of 15-19 year olds are on TikTok every day, according to Newcom. So are you investigating someone between the ages of 15-19? Then there is a good chance that this person has an account on a platform like TikTok.
What to look for?
To tailor a investigation to your target, you can pay attention to many things. For example, you could look at the ageof the person you are investigating, or, for example, at his or her interests. After all, users with certain interests are on different platforms than users with other interests. Think of gamers (YouTube, Twitch), music lovers (Spotify, Soundcloud), and so on. In any case, it is important that you empathize with the person you are investigating. To stay with the group of over 15s: below are the accounts they are involved in according to Newcom.
What about social media abroad?
Are you investigating a person who comes from abroad, resides abroad and/or has connections with persons abroad? Then it can be smart to think about which platforms are popular in that country. For example, you may have heard of Vkontakte, Xing or Aparat. You can find out by smart Googling (“most used social media in country X), or by using an app like AppAnnie, for example.
Platforms for specific groups
Of course, there are also platforms that are widely used by individuals who pursue extreme ideologies. Think, for example, of supporters of the extreme left, extreme right and jihadism. We do not mention specific platforms in this blog, but if you would like to receive more information about this, please feel free to contact us.
Search by username
Have you still not found any account(s) of your target after the above tips? Then it can also simply be that the person you are looking for does not have any accounts. Handy ways to search further can be using Google Operators by using websites and tools that search by username and/or email address. Examples include Whatsmyname.app (username), Holehe (email address), and Sherlock (username).
Once you’ve found a user, you’re ready to investigate that user’s account. Of course, the way of investigation differs per platform. Here you can read, for example, what is possible on other types of social media such as Spotify and Pinterest. In our OSINT training courses we are happy to teach you techniques on which you can conduct research on different types of social media.