The Investigator’s Guide to Social Media introduces popular social media platforms and how information shared on these platforms can benefit investigators. In this installment, we’ll be discussing why one should be investigating Facebook.
What is Facebook?
Social media sites span a spectrum from just providing a user name and a photo to the ability to get a deeper look at a person’s life, their ideas, plans, and psyche. We are providing a convenient snapshot in each of these posts so you can see just what people reveal in each platform.
Our first social media platform is one of the biggest: Facebook. With 1.04 billion average active daily users as of December 2015, this is a platform you don’t want to ignore in your social media search. Here are some of the basics that you need to know about Facebook if you are considering it for a search.
How does Facebook work?
Facebook was developed so anyone could share ideas, information, and media that are important to them. It helps people “stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them,” according to the Facebook company website. And share they do. This is some of what happens per minute on Facebook.
- 150,000 messages sent
- 3 million posts
- 243,000 photos uploaded
- 1.3 million pieces of content shared
The average American spends 40 minutes on Facebook every day, so it’s no wonder there is so much content.
Who uses Facebook?
As of 2015, 72% of all adult internet-users used Facebook (that’s 66% of all men and 77% of all women). For non-Hispanic white and black and for Hispanic racial groups, 70%, 67%, and 75%, respectively, use Facebook. And here is the breakdown by age:
- 82% of 18–29-year-old internet users
- 79% of 30–49-year-old internet users
- 64% of 50–64-year-old internet users
- 48% of 65-year-old and older internet users
And out of all Americans, 66% of 15–34-year-olds and 31% of senior citizens use Facebook.
What is shared on Facebook?
Facebook users are able to post written content, images and videos to their own profile and to other users’ profiles. They can publicly announce plans to attend events, join groups, and like topics. Facebook also allows users to send private messages, and the Facebook Messenger app has become a common way for people to talk online.
Some people will tell every detail of their lives on Facebook. You can find everything from personal information about their relationships, past employers, family members, and education to the places a person has been day to day for years.
You can learn their interests by seeing what other pages they have liked and what they talk about. Users may be willing to engage in debates with their friends about nearly any topic. They also share photos from events or their everyday lives. You can see what organizations they belong to and who they interact with.
How does one search Facebook?
Once you have created a free account, you can search Facebook for certain people, events, groups, pages, hashtags, and other things from the search bar. The resulting list won’t be exclusive to your specific friend or fan network.
Facebook’s search function changes frequently. The following sites can be helpful for investigators attempting to dig deeper:
Is Facebook useful for investigations?
A resounding yes! The majority of online evidence found by SMI analysts comes from Facebook accounts. You would be remiss to skip investigating Facebook, unless you are certain that the person you are researching never uses it.
With such a large (and growing!) swath of the population using Facebook, it is an absolute must for searches. The information you can glean about the person you are investigating is abundant and could be useful to your cause.
If you are interested in conducting a social media search, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 299-9921 for more information.