In order to take a quick dive into researching Instagram, it can be helpful to understand how it originated and which demographics are using it.
Instagram was founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. In April 2012. Facebook Inc. acquired the service for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock.
Instagram quick stats:
- Instagram has over a billion monthly active users.
- About 995 photos are uploaded to Instagram every second.
- The number-one most-shared food on Instagram is pizza.
- There are currently over 140 million Instagram users in the United States.
- 80% of Instagram accounts are for personal use.
- More women use Instagram than men.
- The majority of Instagram users are aged between 25–34 (33.1%).
- 60% of Instagram users go on the platform to find new products.
- 61% of brands are planning to increase their advertising budget for Instagram in 2021.
- The Stories feature receives more than 500 million users daily.
Understanding some of the stats and researching how the app runs and operates can be critical knowledge to have when you have an active user as your subject. Keep in mind the main demographic (aged between 25-34). That doesn’t mean others don’t enjoy using the platform, it just means that most users fall into that category.
As with any social platform, understanding research techniques are vital to any investigation.
Instagram Research Tools for Investigations
If you have ever taken an OSINT course of any kind, you will find that tips for investigation on many social platforms are scarce. Mainly that is because of how the platforms are designed to work and how frequently they change. It is hard to keep up with. There are some tried and true ways to attempt to find the information you are looking for.
Six Instagram Research Tips
- Most Instagram accounts use both a user name and a vanity name. Users can change this at any time and they can put anything they want to.
- It is best to log on to the site for searching. You may want to create a burner profile for this purpose.
- You can choose to search inside the platform or take advantage of searching techniques in a search engine.
- Instagram users may choose to hide photos from time to time. Users can “archive” a photo right within their profile.
- An Instagram user can see who viewed their “Stories”. A “Story” is different than a post. Instagram stories are a type of slide show of different photos that are 15 seconds in length in total. Instagram Stories is similar to Snapchat allowing you to post a story to your account for 24 hours before it disappears. If your Instagram account is set to private, then only the approved followers can see your story. If your Instagram account is set to public, then your followers can see your story from Feed and anyone can see it from your profile
- Don’t forget to search for #- This is often overlooked but can be very helpful in filtering relevant posts.
Once You Find It- Preserve It!
You can see by reading some of the basic tips above that it is very important to preserve a post once you find it. If you think it will be critical to your case, capture it and even download the original post. This basic step may be all you need. However, if you think this case may go to court be sure to authenticate the post using preservation that includes identifying information (meta data, capture date, etc.)
Last year at this time we posted a blog titled, “Leave No Stone Unturned in OSINT”. Keeping up to date on key elements of a social platform allows you to be sure you are searching using every possible tool known at the time. This way, you can search anonymously and gather good intel on your subject at the same time.