Week in OSINT #2024-11

Another short update from the world of OSINT, that starts off with a review of a documentary I watched last week.

Social media has quite an impact on modern society, and not always in a positive way, as can be seen in the documentary "Idaho Murders: Trial by TikTok" that was launched last week. Despite being extremely busy lately, I did make some time to watch it, and am happy that I did. Besides that, I also listened to a podcast episode of NeedleStack, and I updates a handy tool... Not much else, since I was way too busy last week with study. Another few weeks, and things might be back to normal

  • Trial by TikTok
  • NeedleStack and Justin Seitz
  • Google Changes

Review: Trial by TikTok

Last week I watched the BBC3 documentary "The Idaho Murders: Trial by TikTok", in which Zara McDermott travels to the United States to investigate the turmoil on social media, following the murder of four students. When I started watching, I had the notion she would embark on investigating the killings herself, but the story took an unexpected turn. The documentary focusses on how wanna-be sleuths are trying to cover every angle of the ongoing investigation. She interviews several people, and in between snippets of TikTok and YouTube videos are shown, where the online community don't always adhere to the 'innocent until proven guilty' rule of the justice system.

The result is that innocent people are being harassed and even threatened, wild theories are being spread online, and people that are officially cleared by police investigators keep being mentioned as 'suspicious'. The whole documentary showed what kind of world there is created , all due to the power of social media, and the hunger for clicks, views and likes. The good news is, that despite all the interference of the online community, the police did apprehend a prime suspect that will face trial later this year.

For anyone that is new to online investigations, this documentary shows it isn't simply a game of collecting likes and views for you social media account. It can genuinely affect innocent people. People that follow my Week in #OSINT, know that I am a firm believer of "verification is everything". And even I once in a while have made mistakes in fact-checking unimportant pieces of information, but I will never put someone's life or future at risk.

If you would like to see the documentary, and have access to BBC1 or BBC3, I can tell you it will be aired again on Monday the 18th and Tuesday the 19th of March (schedule in UK local time here).

The result of online 'investigators' during a murder investigation
The result of online 'investigators' during a murder investigation

Link: https://www.bbc.com/mediacentre/2024/...

Media: NeedleStack and Justin Seitz

Several days ago another podcast by NeedleStack [ ] was published online, featuring nobody else than Justin Seitz [ ]. Justin is not only known for being the inventor of Hunchly, but at the end of 2023 he also started a different website, called Bullsh*t Hunting where he dives into 'bullshit' that he encounters in real-world cases. In this episode of NeedleStack, he talks about his series 'The Hunt', dealing with a criminal case in Canada where he found flaws in the evidence. It isn't so much all OSINT, but it does talk about research in general, including document requests. So grab a drink, sit tight and listen. Or click on the link, to read up on the whole story yourself.

Listen to the episode directly on Spotify

Podcast: https://pod.link/1600516532/...

Story: https://www.bullshithunting.com/p/advocacy

News: Google Changes

Last week I talked about how the social media landscape constantly changes, and this week I have another great example of this. What I started as an investigation back in 2018 and 2019 into Google's so-called "obfuscated GAIA ID", turned into constant evolving tools like GHunt and Epieos [ ]. Every so often Google changes privacy settings, turns off features, changes API outputs and so on. Sylvain Hajri [ ] is doing a great job to make sure both tools stay up to date, but it shows that tools used for gathering social media information are constantly changing.

Google has changed privacy settings!

FUNINT: This Week's Meme

Sometimes I actually wonder...

Have a good week and have a good search!

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