Yous aren’t the NSA and you lot take a trouble
Practise you take a hater? Is someone anonymously posting things on social media that are driving y’all crazy or disrupting your school? Is someone posing equally yous?
In many cases, it might seem like you can never effigy out who these people are. And, usually, they aren’t doing anything illegal then there’south little the constabulary could do about information technology.
I’m going to share a elementary way that you can grab near online creepers. Most aren’t that sophisticated, most are just idiots who call back they are being funny.
Concluding year I shared how I bargain with trolls, this year I’grand sharing how I track not-so-bearding accounts back to their source
A Rat ALWAYS Returns
I went to a college where pranks were big. It was a conservative Christian college that didn’t allow students to have sexual activity or drinkable alcohol. Nosotros weren’t fifty-fifty allowed to dance or get to movies. With all that extra fourth dimension, pranking folks was a form of currency.
And there I learned an important matter that applies to annoying anonymous accounts:
A Rat Ever Returns
In other words, the fun for the prankster (or troll or bully) is seeing your reaction. This marvel will point you dorsum to the culprit 99 times out of 100.
Let’s say someone put something in our microwave for an hr and information technology burned, causing a nasty smell that brought everyone out to inspect the problem in the kitchen. The person who was there who didn’t fit in… or the random person who walked past “because they smelled something” was usually the person who did it. They were the rat.
The exact same behavior is true when someone is anonymously tormenting someone on social media.
You don’t take to be the NSA to runway downward the culprit because 99 times out of 100, all you accept to do is look at who is looking and it’ll point to your rat.
Step 1 – Place the business relationship
Might seem too obvious. Simply y’all need to isolate the account. Go to information technology’s profile page, it’due south a wealth of information.
Step ii – Map the users they engage with
Looking at the offending profile, start taking notes on who are they engaging with? Grab a slice of paper and place the showtime 10 people the account followed or became friends with. Next, place who they most often engage with. Look for social activity similar favorites, retweets, mentions, things like that.
Step three – Identify Related “Accounts of Interest“
Once yous’ve washed that, lodge the accounts that they engage with the most from #1 – #10. Chances are very high that your culprit is one of those accounts OR they are, at least, friends with them. These are your
“accounts of interest.”
Why? Because this behavior is about social power. And at that place is nothing to be gained unless other people know you are doing it, can watch it, etc.
Map the Context / Language
Step 4 – Isolate the Context
I discover it helps to get the text/images/videos out of the actual app and into some other format.
Create a Google/Excel spreadsheet with a new tab for each incident when the offending account posted something. Create a column for each of your 10 “accounts of interest” associated with the anonymous account. (And so row 1 is the names of all the accounts) Next, copy/paste any mail from those users effectually the time that something was posted. Note mentions of the offending bulletin or the person beingness targeted. Anything that could be in context.
The indicate in doing this isn’t that you are going to identify your offender. Merely yous are most definitely going to be able to
identify the friend group of the offender(south). You can assume that these people are either together or texting/messaging one another about the anonymous account.
Take careful annotation nearly who is promoting the account to other people. They are vested in other people discovering the account, sharing it equally funny or asking other people to check it out/follow information technology.
As y’all sift through this you will meet a few accounts who are the closest to the activity. These are the almost interested parties. They might not be the offender, but they know who it is.
- When were things posted?
- What were they talking about before and after?
- Were there references to what they were doing? Where were they?
- Were they referring to contexts of things that limited people know about? (Something that happened in a course, for example.)
Social media happens in real fourth dimension. Context is very important. Circumstances often lead to the timing of what is posted, when.
Step 5 – Map Mistakes
I can’t believe how often this points straight back to a source.
Near smartphones have a built-in GPS. And most social media apps, unless you plough information technology off, will tell you a location. Curlicue through the offending account to see if you tin can spot any of that.
Stride six – Map Images
If they are posting images they’ve taken, their goose is cooked. Seriously, this is besides easy. Download the images to your computer and look at the properties of the image with the image viewing applications included with your computer for gratis. (In my example
Preview) Open the prototype, click
Tools>Show Location Info
Here’southward information about a picture I took at a local grocery shop of some duck eggs.
If yous have this information, y’all can institute exactly where that person was when the image was taken… but yous can besides tell the exact model of their device. If you take 10 people you’re looking at,
how many of them have a black iPhone half-dozen?Your circle just got a lot smaller.
Step seven – In Real Life
Permit’s say yous are an ambassador at a school and you demand to know who is impersonating a teacher or who is bullying a student. At present that you accept this information you take a pretty good idea who to talk to.
The last footstep is the confrontation. If you’ve followed the steps higher up, chances are very loftier you’ve identified 3-4 people you demand to talk to besides as created a paper trail every bit to why you are talking to these individuals.
Likewise, let’s say that this beliefs has crossed a legal boundary. The information in a higher place is easy enough to share with an investigator to give them a fast-forward on doing a criminal investigation.
Did this assistance you? Get out me a annotate or driblet me a note via my contact form.
This mail relates to my social media principle #2: There’due south no such thing as privacy online, only perceived online privacy. If you’d like to larn more nearly that delight check out my book,
A Parent’due south Guide to Agreement Social Media.