The internet has become a vast black hole of information. It takes everything in and churns out shiny new data while killing off the old and obsolete. In the beginning stages of Facebook popularity, I was stunned (and excited) by how fearlessly one will give up one’s personal information. And now, even with strong privacy features in place, there is much to see and new ways to look for it.
Foursquare and “checking in” at business addresses or friends houses may not appear for public view, but if you can see a map on a users public page, you can make an educated guess about where a person shops, socializes and lives. I pay most attention to those locations when it’s the subject’s birthday. Those locations may be only discoverable at a city and state level. However, that may be enough information to get you looking in the right direction.
Being friends with many people (instant audience, right?) encourages the user to post where they may be heading to celebrate a birthday or family get-together. Events (a separate feature) also may now be seen on the public timeline layout. The key to social skip tracing is studying the surroundings in photographs posted, comments on other user’s posts and their own telling posts.
New features of the Timeline layout on Facebook that help skip tracing:
- I can see every page and advertisement that a subject “Likes.” This has really helped me to determine what is going on in my skip’s life. If they like a certain bar or nightclub for instance, that is a place that I want to keep an eye on.
- When a user is logged into Facebook on a mobile phone a tiny cell phone icon will appear in the post with the word “mobile.” My mission after I see that is to discovery the phone number linked to that account. I may already have that phone number in my notes and knowing that urges me to run every phone number. I have to see whose profile that phone number may be linked to.
- If a phone number is associated with a profile, the phone number can be searched alone (with dashes) in the search field, and those profiles will be listed in the results. Please note, when you search for a phone number by itself in Google, Bing or Yahoo, you may not get the same results as searching the phone number on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. This search feature has been the best help when I cannot locate a Facebook page because a nick-name or a variation of a name is used leaving that profile completely out of my typical searches. [Facebook now has the option to not be searchable by an email or phone number. This is a part of the new security settings and prompted when a new account is created.]
- “Info” has been renamed to “About” and it appears as a click-able word only below the profile picture. If there is any publicly shared personal information such as an email address or other phone number, you will find it there. If nothing else appears on the “About” page, the Facebook email address will be there.
- Facebook no longer allows secret accounts or fake names. If someone has an active page, you’ll find it. If you can’t locate a page it could be that person isn’t using their real name. This happens quite a bit, to defeat this I search for people on my skips reference sheet then study the friends list.
Valerie McGilvrey, The Daily Skip
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