As OSINT investigators, we need to be aware of the hundreds of social media platforms connecting millions of users daily. Some platforms, such as Facebook, require a real-life person to be associated with a personal account. Others, such as Instagram and Twitter, can be created in minutes, and a user can hide behind a made-up handle like “@josephine2Bsummer” and the average user has no idea who is behind the account.
This week, we discuss a social media platform that can help both the seasoned and newbie investigator track down images and people.
Picabun locates and displays Instagram content and analyzes a user’s Instagram statistics. You do not have to have an Instagram profile to use the website. Picabun displays most-liked and most-commented medias. It analyzes a follower’s growth while exploring Instagram users and their postings. You can browse users, hashtags, or photos using a specific key word.
Among the statistics provided are who is not following you back, who you are not following back, your most liked posts, and your most commented posts. Picabun also allows the user to create Instagram lists. This can be quite helpful when needing to browse feeds chronologically in an investigation.
From a recent search for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, @therock, an American actor, producer, investor, and retired professional wrestler, we learned that he has posted 4,778 times, has 18 million followers, and follows 372 other Instagrammers. Other users have tagged him approximately 3 million times. People have liked his posts an average of 1 million times. He has received over 79,000 comments. Picabun also provides a running list of his posts, along with the number of likes and comments and when they were posted.
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Matt and Trevor are investigative analysts at Hetherington Group, where they use their open source research skills to extract data from social media accounts, conduct risk assessments, and monitor subjects for clients in pharma, tech, retail, and entertainment. Both are contributing writers to Hg’s Data2Know, Industry Undercover, and OSINT Slack channels. On their lunch breaks, they can be found outside playing frisbee with their four-legged colleagues.