Jan 26 2022

What is the probability of locating a social media account?

We crunched all the data collated from our investigations in 2021 to provide some insights

Last week we emailed all our clients to reveal the proportion of people investigated that we were able to locate on various social media platforms throughout 2021.

Here at NetWatch we believe this is THE defining piece of data to measure the effectiveness of anyone conducting online investigation. That’s not a particularly big statement really – is your investigator locating all the subject’s social media accounts? As such, it goes without saying that it’s a metric we look at to see how effective we are, but it’s surprising how many clients don’t request this in their MI data, or measure it at all.

Here’s an insight into the report and how we put it together:

The Data

The data was collated from every single investigation we undertook into a person in 2021. A good-sized sample!

Obviously, it’s skewed to some extent as we are restricted to using the data taken from investigations we’ve done. It’s likely that our clients will favour instructing us to investigate younger demographics, so at the higher ages the data becomes a little erratic. As such we restricted the data used for this report to subjects aged between 16 and 80, but we did regularly locate accounts for the over 80’s – the oldest person we found with an Instagram account in 2021 was 89!

Platforms Covered

Within the 2021 report we looked at Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Strava & TikTok. We’ve found that these are the sites that we find most frequently that prove to contain useful intelligence. There are always new platforms emerging, and hopefully we see others gaining the kind of traction TikTok saw throughout 2021. It’s something we keep an eye on, and you can read reports into newer platforms and their usefulness for OSINT investigation on our blog which recently featured writeups on Rumble and VSCO.

The Report

Within the report we included a specific section on each social media platform, and fully charted the percentage of accounts found at each and every age from 16 to 80. This makes it possible to ascertain the likelihood of locating an account for each of the 6 platforms covered at every age group, based on our 2021 data. Whilst the data shows that Facebook is consistently the most likely account to be located – it is clear that it is being overtaken by Instagram at younger ages, with TikTok not far behind.

The graphic below reveals the percentage chance of locating Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Strava, TikTok and Twitter for the average 16- to 21-year-old investigated.


It was also interesting to note:

  • The chance of locating a Facebook account never falls to lower than 60% for anyone aged between 16 to 58.
  • Even at the 70-75 age bracket the average chance of locating an Instagram account was found to be 18%
  • The probability of a LinkedIn account being located is relatively flat across age ranges for all of the working population
  • The peak user group for Strava is those aged 30 to 40.
  • TikTok accounts are still regularly located for the over 50s.
  • A high level of Twitter accounts for the under 24s may indicate the platform is seeing a resurgence at the younger end of the population.

You can receive a copy of the full report and all the granular data by sending a request to us at enquiries@netwatchglobal.com or to download the Expected Socials by Age Range graphics for all age groups follow the link below.

Get the data on every age range

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