Last weekend Facebook changed the way their graph search feature works, making it much harder to perform what were previously simple searches, prompting outrage from both public and private sector members of the open source intelligence community; who often rely heavily on these features to uncover all manner of atrocities from organised crime to child abuse.
The removal of graph search, a feature which Facebook introduced in 2013 as a key pillar of the platform, is a further reactionary measure in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It appears that Facebook could still be getting to grips with the concerns about illicit access to the data exchanged and hosted on their platform, and the ways in which it can be abused. It appears to the OSINT community that they would rather stop people being able to use the search for good rather than risk another scandal.
To many of us working in OSINT these changes do not come as a surprise. Facebook have been changing their platform continually over the last 5 years so those using it for investigation continually have to adapt. Its one of the reasons at NetWatch we launched Temporary Intelligence Capture® last year; a tool which has now become even more important than ever with the changes at the weekend and the Instagram Stories user base growing by over 100 million since we launched it.
These changes are undoubtedly limiting the capability of many in house intelligence teams and decreasing their effectiveness in gathering information. If you know anyone in that boat either within your organisation or elsewhere it may be time to advise them to come to a dedicated OSINT provider like NetWatch, or even to try out our new OSINT ToolSuite. At NetWatch we’re used to rolling with the changes that social media companies enforce and continually adapt our methodologies to ensure that we can provide first class uninterrupted service to our clients. Today NetWatch is even more capable than other service providers in the field than we were last week, so it’s more essential than ever if you need an open source investigation done properly that you come to the experts and NetWatch it.
Let us know if you refer anyone to NetWatch, and if they get in touch, we’ll enter you into the draw for a £250 John Lewis voucher or feel free to copy us on an intro to email@example.com.