Instagram for OSINT Investigation
Instagram is a great social media for OSINT investigations because people love to share photos and videos of their lives. Such content can provide much helpful information if studied carefully. It is not for nothing that people like jokes about women who figure out men’s mistresses by a manicured hand caught in the photo accidentally.
If you also want to learn this skill, we will tell you how to use Instagram for OSINT investigations and the best tools for this.
Searching for people
Let’s start with the simplest but sometimes the most difficult – to find a person on Instagram. The problem is that even if you have a person’s real name, searching on Instagram might not give you any results. It is better to know the username and can type it without mistakes. Lucky for you, there are ways to find an Instagram profile if you only have the person’s real name.
- Use Google Dorks. In a search engine, type ‘site:Instagram.com “username,” and Google will give you all Instagram pages with that name. Still, you will have to open each page with this name to find out which one is the right one.
- Use Gramhir. This site is essentially an improved version of the Instagram search engine. Enter a username, and it will show you all profiles with this username. You can also see the profile photo in the search results, so opening every page is unnecessary. Just copy the username you need, and find the exact match by using the Instagram search bar.
- Buy access on Picodash. This tool, although paid, is fantastic. Suppose you know that your target is following another person’s account. In that case, Picodash can download the entire subscriber list from this person’s account, which includes your target and their real name.
You will receive an Excel or Google Sheets file where you can search by keyword or real name and find your target’s username. Copy it and paste it into the Instagram search bar to find the person’s profile. Moreover, the list displays not only user names but also emails and even bio, so you can check them to be sure that you’ve chosen the right username.
Downloading photos and videos
The second thing you need is to download photos and videos. Perhaps you need to take a closer look and rewind the video or just collect images for a report. In any case, use the following tools.
DownAlbum is a browser extension that allows you to download photos. Its main advantage is that it selects the largest available photo options. That is, if you click on the profile picture, which Instagram usually crops a lot, you can see everything that the frame hides. This feature is helpful if you think that a specific post contains something more outside the box, for example, location hints, since you can download it and explore it.
Downloader for Instagram is another software for downloading Instagram posts, but it can also download stories and videos. By the way, it also has a convenient search engine so that these stories and videos can first be found by hashtag.
Finding a location is a must if you want to know people’s habits, interests, or even their connections with other people. There is a problem that Instagram allows you to put any location on the photos, not the actual one. For example, you can be in Atlanta but set the geolocation to “Paris”. Still, this method is worth trying anyway.
Firstly, you can click on the location marked in the photo and see other posts from the exact location on the same day. Perhaps you noticed that your boyfriend and his new “just colleague” had dinner at the same romantic restaurant yesterday?
Secondly, you can use the very cool app Who’s In Town? This application shows locations the people you follow visited and checked in online on the map. This way, you can see whom your target was dating, where they were on any given day, or even where they live. It sounds creepy, but if people themselves mark their location, it’s their problem that other people can use it.
Search by hashtags and keywords
Searching by hashtags and keywords can be useful if you are looking for general trends, or supporters of any movement, religion, or political ideology. This type of search can be done in several ways.
- The easiest way to search for hashtags is in the Instagram search bar as it gives the most accurate results and sorts by age of posts. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with keywords.
- If you need posts with multiple hashtags or keywords, it is better to use Google Dorks
- inurl:instagram.com/p #hashtag1 #hashtag2 searches for posts by hashtags
- inurl:instagram.com/p/ “keyword” searches for posts with the text that contain keywords
- Since hashtags often differ by a single word or character, it’s best to make sure you’ve used all the options available. Keywordtool will help you with this task by providing all the possible hashtags for the word you specify.
Anonymous browsing stories
Finally, let’s talk about the solution to the problem faced not only by OSINT investigators but also by ordinary users. How to view stories without revealing your identity? You don’t need to create a fake account for this. Use Stori Stalker.
Stori Stalker allows you to watch users’ stories anonymously, even if you don’t have an Instagram profile. It also shows many other helpful information and statistics but only for paid accounts. Moreover, it only works if the user’s profile is not set to private, but still, this is a very handy tool for investigating open profiles.
Instagram can be used in various ways to conduct complete research and start a search. For example, suppose the photos of a person are not of particular interest. In that case, you can find the email and use it to look for other data. But it’s better to understand what a person is fond of and with whom they communicate by viewing their stories and photos. The main thing is to set up the right goal and use the right tools to achieve it.