With over a billion people subscribed to the service, Instagram has one of the largest userbases of any social network, and as users publish photos, videos, and stories on a daily basis, the platform is host to a huge amount of content, which just keeps growing. But for investigators, this wealth of information is a remarkable resource, and can be applied in multiple ways to help solve a wide range of cases.

At Social Links, we are fully aware of how rich Instagram is as an investigation resource, and continually work on ways to unlock its full potential by developing automated search methods that continue to meet the needs of our clients. With SL PRO for IBM i2, we have placed an array of powerful search methods, and in this article we want to go through our top three for successfully conducting cases in Instagram.

Search by Face and Location: the power of facial recognition

The query [Instagram] Search by Face and Location allows us to find a specific individual’s face among photos that were tagged in the location of our choice.

For example, let’s say we want to find out whether a particular face (in a photo we already have access to) can be recognized in a selection of photos taken at a London restaurant. We can gather a variety of photos that all have this eatery as the tagged location and run the facial recognition tool – this will automatically filter out any photos that match the face from our original.

This type of investigative methodology can be used in the insurance industry when investigating potential insurance fraud. For instance, an insurance company needs to make a payment to a baker who fell ill, missed out on revenue and made an insurance claim. The agent in charge of the investigation can extract all photos from the location between the dates of the baker’s alleged illness, run the facial recognition tool and discover whether the baker was in actual fact ill and unable to work for the period specified.

Pic. 1. All photos which have the London restaurant as a tagged location and also contain the subject’s face.

Instagram stories: enrich information about an account

Instagram’s ‘stories’ feature allows users to add various information that can often be useful for investigators such as location, other tagged users, texts, polls and more.

By running the query [Instagram] Get Stories we can retrieve all accessible stories connected to an Instagram profile. In turn, the stories themselves can then be further unpacked with [Instagram] Get Details, allowing you to view all tagged profiles, locations, etc. One of the key advantages of using this functionality over traditional Instagram investigation methods is that the user will not be aware that their story was viewed by the investigator.

Pic. 2. Discovered stories of the actress Reese Witherspoon, alongside the tagged users and hashtags from these stories.

Geolocation analysis: discovering mutual locations of connection

Our third method explores the usefulness of geolocation analysis. Suppose we want to discover whether person A and B visit the same locations. Using SL PRO for IBM i2, we can take all posts of the two targets and extract the tagged locations, then for Person A, we style their locations with a yellow circle and add them to the map. We now do the same for Person B, but this time styling the locations with a different colored circle. Once this process has been completed, we can easily see if the two targets frequent the same locations or live in the same area, even if they are not following each other.

Pic. 3. Two locations marked as visited by Person A in close proximity with two marked as visited by Person B.

Summary

These are just three of our most effective and simple investigation methods available in SL PRO for IBM i2. But besides providing investigators with search methods for Instagram, the product also offers a wide range of queries for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tinder, messengers and other social media platforms, allowing you to build an investigation that shows many points of contact between different platforms, and harnesses the full potential of social media.


It is our aim for SL PRO for IBM i2 to open up new opportunities for investigators to solve more cases and make the world a safer place! As always, we are more than happy to give a demo of any of our solutions to potential partners. Feel free to contact our team at hello@sociallinks.io, or fill out our request form so that we can contact you as soon as possible.