• Dave Hulshizer

To Share or Not to Share

With 2.7 billion monthly active users on Facebok alone, it is clear why social media networks are a valuable source of information and evidence for investigators, both digital and otherwise. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/) And...because Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email, social media information and evidence is plentiful. You just need to know how to ensure it is done legally. That is where a professional digital investigator comes into the picture.

In most digital investigations, evidence collected from social media will become valuable information in the case. Evidence from social media can be discovered and obtained using multiple methods, including public content, reviewing content metadata, soliciting and investigating interactions with other users, and utilizing legal holds.

Social media evidence can be used to create a timeline of events, show motive, intent or conspiracy, and establish connections between persons. A professional digital forensics investigator, such as myself, can legally obtain and collect such evidence.

However, as stated, this must be done legally. There are many legal issues that can affect the collection and ultimate legal admissibility of this evidence. Evidence must be collected using careful, correct procedures and in a manner that ensures its integrity. Ethical implications of the collection of social media evidence plays a role in the investigation, but social media offers various avenues for the collection and use of its data as evidence within a digital forensics investigation.

Careful steps must be taken in a digital forensic investigation to acquire digital evidence that is both authentic and forensically sound. Finding, preserving and collecting social media evidence requires forensic skills, as well as an understanding of the laws that govern its collection and use.

A variety of cases, both civil and criminal, could easily utilize evidence obtained from social media. It is mind boggling what people share - don't you agree?