Have you ever tried to find somebody on Facebook and couldn’t? One would think that finding somebody on Facebook would be a relatively straightforward process, but with a vast array of privacy settings, it’s not as straightforward as you may think.
Social media is playing an increasingly larger role for private investigators, and there is no bigger game in town than Facebook. With 800 million active Facebook users, it’s more common for someone to be on Facebook than not. Social media sites such as Facebook offer an unbelievably rich source of information that might be relevant to any investigation including an asset investigation, an executive background check or to find someone on the Internet.
One of the initial challenges to finding somebody on Facebook is the vast array of privacy settings that users have implemented so that people like you (or us) can’t find them. But there are ways around that, which we will go into below.
Here are four ways to find somebody on Facebook:
What better place to start than Facebook’s own search feature. Here you can search by the person’s name, school or company. You must have an active account in order to access this feature. In order to find the person on Facebook, that “somebody” whom you are looking for must have privacy settings turned off so that the person can be looked up by name or contact info.
For most social networks, Facebook included, you can find somebody by typing in an email address. So even if a user profile has been set up under a completely fake name, you can still find the person by typing his or her email address into the Facebook search box.
Even if a person turns on every Facebook privacy setting in the world, when he or she comments on a public page, it’s “public.” One way to find if the person has commented on any public pages is to use the “site” operator in Google, which searches all pages that have been indexed by Google. So, for example, if you were looking for the Boogie Man, you would type “site:www.facebook.com Boogie Man.”
Search Friends, Family and Colleagues
You can control your own privacy settings, but you can’t control everyone else’s. Facebook even has its own family search, where you can search by family last name. If friends, family or colleagues don’t change certain privacy settings, you may be able to find the person by looking through the friend lists of friends, colleagues, family and coworkers.
If you have found the person’s profile, congratulations. While you may have found the person you are looking for, depending on the privacy settings, you may not be able to access the person’s wall or photos; but we have found that people often leave their friend lists open, which can be a rich source of information.