This article provides an overview of various Facebook Search Tools that can be used to investigate someone’s account activity. First, I’ll provide an overview of how to prepare for your investigation. Then, I’ll cover the help resources provided by Facebook itself, including links to key company pages, forms and contact information. Then, I’ll share a list of helpful Open Source Intelligence Tools that you can use to run queries, lookup information and make connections.
How to Start Your Facebook Investigation
Social media investigations involve investigating a person’s activity on a social media network. More than two billion people have a Facebook account, so it is likely that most cases will include it.
If your case leads you to investigate a person’s Facebook activity, the first thing you need to do is gather as much information as possible about the subject. Make a list of the following:
- The person’s full name, including their first name, middle name or initial and last name. This will be helpful if you don’t know the person’s
- Names of any known family members, friends, colleagues, associates, roommates, teammates, etc. Having these names can be helpful as you can potentially find information, posts, photos, etc. about your subject on their page.
- Current address (preferably the full mailing address, or at least the city state)
- Phone number
- The name of the subject’s employer
- List of schools attended
- The name of the person’s hometown (city and state)
- The person’s birth date, or at least the birth year
In addition, it will be helpful to get a person’s profile ID number. Many of the Facebook OSINT tools use the profile ID number because it is much more specific than a name (e.g. the name John Smith will return thousands of results).
The easiest way to get someone’s profile ID number if to visit their profile using a web browser. Then, right-click anywhere on the page. Then select View Source Code. Search the source code for profile_ID.
Facebook OSINT Search Tools
- Facebook Directory List – Browse an A to Z list of profiles by name, in alphabetical order. This list includes people who have Public Search listings available. Users can opt out of appearing on this list by changing their search privacy settings.
- Forgot Password / Account Lookup – A search form that allows you to search for your account by email address or phone number.
- Live Map – A world map that shows the locations of the people who are broadcasting live.
- People Search – This is the standard search form within the social media platform that allows you to search by user name. Just enter the name in the search box and hit enter. If there are any matches, you’ll receive a list of profiles that match (or nearly match) the search criteria. You can also use keywords other than user names in your search. You must be logged in to conduct a search.
- NetBootCamp – Net Boot Camp has a nice collection of helpful search forms that allow you to run queries by: name, email, phone number, birth year, employer, school, check-ins, religious views, keywords and more. This is much more powerful than the standard website or app search.
- Stalkscan – This is a website the use’s Open Graph to show you all of the public information about a person’s profile. Currently, I have this link disabled, as I couldn’t get it to provide any results.
Facebook Help Resources
The Facebook Help Center has an extensive collection of reference guides, help articles, etc. on everything related to using the social media service. The Center is divided into: Using the Service, Managing Your Account, Privacy and Safety and Polices and Reporting. Within each major section, there are numerous subsections, articles and reference guide that explain everything from how to friend and message people to how to block or unfriend people.
Hire a Private Investigator to do a Social Media Investigation
Some private investigators specialize in conducting social media investigations and are experts at using Facebook search tools. Visit our private investigator directory to hire an investigation professional in your area.
If you have any questions about these Facebook search tools, or how to investigate someone’s online account activity, please post a message below.