|Reviewing social media during an investigation is an integral baseline practice for identifying individuals’ online presence, obtaining information, and potentially obtaining and preserving evidence, regardless of the nature of the investigation. Weather you are reviewing an executive’s background to determine if there is anything unsavory in the public record or searching to obtain evidence that an employee was engaged in corporate waste by spending time on social media during work hours, a thorough review of social media can provide an investigator with useful information and evidence.
Over the past five years or so, social media applications and websites such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok have grown in popularity. With the growth of video format posts on these websites through Instagram’s stories, Twitter videos and “Fleets” and IGTV as well as TikTok’s short-video format, users posting videos to their profiles have become more common.
One good practice for investigators is to preserve as much evidence of their investigation as possible, particularly when looking at social media. It is common for individuals to later delete their social media posts and activity, and so downloading copies of activity for evidence can be crucial.
A primary useful tool for downloading media files from social media platforms is the “Inspect Element” or “Inspect” feature built into web browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and others. This allows individuals to view the CSS coding for a website, and to view the parts that make up a webpage.
For the purposes of this process, you will need to have an active account on most social media platforms. For the purposes of investigation, we typically would suggest utilizing a secure anonymized profile, which we will cover in another post. But for now, we can assume that you have an account and access to it through a web browser.
The example post below contains a video compilation of Elizabeth Swan, the fictional character portrayed by Natalie Portman: