If you have subjects or witnesses whom you believe have useful information posted to their social network pages, best practices necessitate a systematic and detailed approach.
Most people these days simply take a screenshot of the desired postings, and consider that to be the evidence they can then use in negotiations and/or at trial. There’s a couple problems with this method. First, taking a screenshot is one-time and static and doesn’t allow for ongoing acquisition of important social media information across time and between potential witnesses. Second, screenshots are merely image files and as such are limited in that they aren’t searchable for keywords or names, and don’t contain any relevant metadata.
If your subjects or witnesses have valuable information posted, then a more in-depth social media investigation is warranted. When one simply takes a screenshot of a subject’s page, one is missing crucial metadata that defines those postings, including exact time, location information, source device (e.g. web browser or smartphone), and the unique identifiers for any given posting or “digital fingerprints” — all of which are essential components to establish authenticity.
In our training of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators, we go into great detail about the importance of authenticity and the number of state and federal cases where that’s become an issue. Suffice to say that you are best served by working with a professional who has the expertise and software tools to reliably capture, preserve, index, search, and produce any social media information available on your subjects.
Extensive training and experience in this area has qualified Eli as a Social Media Intelligence Analyst (through the McAfee Institute) and a Social Media Forensics Investigator (through the International Association of Digital Forensics Investigators). The software tools we use are unique in their ability to ensure that all these best practices are achieved.
Our rates are reasonable and any case we conduct can include: researching potential sites and services your witnesses are posting to; plus capture and ongoing collection and analysis for any witnesses/subjects.
Many businesses and legal professionals attempt to conduct social media investigations and handle social media evidence on their own. However, working with a social media professional has distinct advantages:
- Investigation – In-depth background investigations can be conducted which complement a social media search of needed subjects and witnesses.
- Collection – All social media evidence is collected in a defensible manner by a neutral third party, and all crucial metadata is preserved.
- Authentication – We ensure that dates, MD5 hash values, and other needed digital evidence of individual items are captured and maintained through export and delivery.
- Search – Content is automatically indexed and searches for one or even hundreds of terms can be conducted across multiple sites of multiple subjects.
- Production – Data can be tagged, sorted, and exported quickly to any common document review platforms.
Note that the methods and tools we use capture and index publicly available information from social network sites, any publicly available web postings, or the protected content of any cooperating witnesses whose credentials have been explicitly and legally shared with the client. We do not use any pretexting, subterfuge, password cracking, social engineering, or otherwise unethical means to gain access to protected material. Often times we’ve found that though you may not be able to access a particular witness’ content directly, capturing the content of a cooperating witness connected to that witness may prove invaluable.
Take social media investigations further. Call us today.