The Use of Social Media in Private Investigation

Social Media Map interlinking of a an investigators workSeveral researchers have reported that out of every 10 law enforcement professionals (81%) actively use social media as a tool in investigations and in a modern world, where life revolves around social media pages, it is no genius that the first attempt of everyone to investigate would be their social media accounts. About 67% of respondents indicate that social media monitoring is a valuable process in anticipating crimes. When investigators use social media as an investigatory tool, around 73% believe that social media can help solve cases much more efficiently and quickly. This is the reason why social media private investigators have worked remarkably well in the industry!

And it’s not just law enforcement officials and private investigators who find value in social media.

For example, businesses in Ohio had begun hiring private investigators to search social media sites to find information about their competitors and to keep an eye out for employee misconduct.

As per 2016 surveys of 539 departments found that around 70% of people use social media to gather intelligence and 59% contacted a social media company to obtain information to use as evidence and in today’s world, generating leads through social media is more of a common culture that is not limited to fulfill the purpose of investigations alone.

Although private investigators certainly haven’t abandoned more traditional methods of surveillance and investigation, many have also begun pouring over the Internet’s social media sites to glean a great deal of information about people.

Private equity firms and hedge funds, for example, often hire the expertise of private investigators to search social media sites for information on a management team before they spend tens of thousands—even millions—of dollars in a company.

Facebook posts were a key source of digital evidence for FBI agents investigating the U.S. Capitol riot on 6th January 2021 wherein Federal prosecutors cited different public posts along with the information provided by Facebook in charging documents.

Time and again in May 2020, there were several federal agencies who reported using images from protests and civil uprisings sparked by the death of George Floyd that contributed significantly as a credible source of information due to the uproar on social media pages.

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A typical case of social network investigations wherein a private investigator reported he searched social media sites for a company that needed information on the chief executives of companies they targeted for acquisition.

In one example, a private investigator did the research for a company that was looking to collect money from a businessman who claimed poverty. Through social media research (and a few careless posts bragging about his place in the Caribbean), the private investigator found that the individual in question was actually hiding assets.

With changing times, the good old-fashion investigation conducting PI work such as, canvassing locations, talking to witnesses, trying to go beyond what meets the eyes by rifling through every hidden closet to find clues have gone out of the window long back! 

Private Investigators have refined their practices of conducting electronic surveillance and background checks through their database which revolutionized the field of investigation work for both law enforcement and private investigators!

With the advent of smart technology, PIs no longer have to hit the streets to pursue their investigations and limit their investigations to what was available to them in the surroundings. Private investigators are actively hiring tech-savvy assistants that are well-adept in the field of digital and social networks investigations. 

Social media acts as the smoking gun for any hot-shot case that is riled up with clues that can be easily found on social media through some smart investigative research!

Private investigators often use such sites as Google, Facebook, and Twitter to back up their traditional investigative work and read between the lines of information already obtained from other traditional sources.

Social media provides private investigators with the ability to verify what they may suspect and to follow leads to find more information. Investigators can maximize their success by monitoring as many social media sites as possible, as many individuals use a number of sites to post information.

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