Don’t Tip Off Your Research Subject

Online Investigation Tipped Off

Did you know that whenever you view someone’s LinkedIn profile, that person is notified? Were you aware that other social media platforms have similar practices? If not, you are potentially subjecting your company to legal exposure by attempting DIY background research.

The subject can now see exactly who the administrator is, where she works, and what she does.

Some administrators engage in even more questionable tactics in conducting research on a subject. They sometimes actually send out “friends” or “connection” requests to the target of an investigation. Even worse, some resort to creating fake profiles to do so! This is of course extremely unethical. At the very least, the subject may become suspicious and delete or destroy vital evidence that could have supported your case.

Social media platforms are very sophisticated data collection tools. It’s how they make their money. This means that just because you’ve hired a young digital native to conduct background research, that doesn’t mean that this person is capable or qualified to conduct an ethical or legally defensible investigation on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok or Instagram.

Here’s a scenario that we’ve seen occur all too often. An administrator is tasked with conducting evidence collection and begins by checking out the target’s Facebook profile. She begins looking through photos to find incriminating evidence, but some potentially promising photos are set to private. You win some, you lose some.

What this administrator may not realize is that Facebook’s algorithm “thinks” that she and the target know one another, so the target receives a notification that the administrator may be someone he may know as part of a list of suggested new “friends”. The subject actually has no idea who the administrator is – and checks out her profile. The subject can now see exactly who the administrator is, where she works, and what she does. He becomes suspicious and calls his attorney, who suggests that the subject take down any incriminating photos.

The next thing the attorney knows, she’s being dismissed due to unethical behavior. All because of an unwise Facebook search that didn’t yield any useful information!

SMI does not make mistakes like this. We’ve been doing this work since 2011 and we are better at what we do than whatever you may read in a blog on the internet. We’ll collect the evidence you need in an ethical and legally defensible method – and without tipping off your subject. To see an example of a real report we’ve compiled for a past client, check out our website. You’ll also learn more about how we work – and what we can do for you.

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