In this article, we will give some practical tips on how to use Snapchat for OSINT. To do this, you will need an Android phone or emulator. The site of this social network is not suitable for this purpose. However, we won’t write it off completely and will start with it first to get some information through the Snapchat Map and Snapchat Story feature.
Snapchat Map allows you to upload content with geolocation from anywhere in the world. This is an excellent opportunity for the researcher to understand what is happening in any particular place, just to observe or collect information about the unfolding events.
Map – link
To start exploring, just go to the area of your interest and click on one of the hotspots. You will be able to see the content, which was loaded from that area. The darker color, the more content is available to us. It’s important to know that Snapchat doesn’t save forever. So if you find something interesting, don’t forget to keep it.
It happens that the person who posted the video is not interesting to us, but the video is valuable. The problem with Snapchat in this case could be that users tag themselves on stories and those off-topic tags interfere with browsing. Sometimes this is useful if both the video and the person are connected and we need to show this connection. But what if we need a clear video without these visual effects and distractions? In order to get rid of them, we need to use the browser developer console, which will save the video with and without graphic filters.
– Go to https://map.snapchat.com and find the video content you are interested in.
– Open developer mode in the browser by pressing F12.
– In developer mode, select the Network and Media tabs to filter out everything except video content.
– Press Ctrl + R to reload the page.
– When you see the link to the video you are interested in, right-click it and select to open it in a new tab.
– Viewing the video in a new tab will give you the option to save it either from the on-screen menu or by right-clicking and selecting Save As.
– Now the most interesting. You will notice that the URL of the selected video looks something like this:
By slightly changing the URL and replacing ” media.mp4 ” with ” embedded.mp4 “, you can see the video in the original downloaded format.
What is the exact date/time for uploading content on Snapchat Live Map or Snapchat Stories?
It is impossible to say exactly when the content was published, however, knowing Snapchat’s data retention policy, we can say that the materials that are there are no older than 6 days. The public view will only show the time, such as “4 hours ago” or “2 days ago”. This applies to both the map and public stories.
How may I find out who uploaded content on Snapchat Live Map or Snapchat Stories?
Unfortunately, on the web version of Snapchat, there is no way to find out who shared content. You will have to watch and listen to videos, photos, or stories that may contain some clues. Sometimes the user specifies a Snapcode, which is a QR-like code that can be scanned using a mobile phone’s camera. It will direct you to the person’s profile, offline content, or ads.
Most of the limitations described above relate to the web version of the map. If you use the mobile version, there is a chance that we will see the login of the person who posted the material. The smartphone application has a special button that allows you to view the content creator.
Snapchat Mobile App
In order to be able to enjoy all the benefits and features of Snapchat, you’d better use the mobile application. It’s good if you have a phone that you can use for investigations. But if not, or if you want to keep your privacy, you can use Android phone emulators.
For these purposes, BlueStacks or GenyMotion are perfect. With these emulators, you will be able to use your computer just like you would an Android tablet or phone. It happens that there are problems with installation or launch. In this case, try Android Studio. This will require a little more disk space, but it works great with Snapchat.
Search by phone number
If you want to know if a phone number is associated with a Snapchat account, simply add the number to your contacts (either smartphone or emulator) and sync with Snapchat. If there is a match, you will see the username on the screen.
– Click on the silhouette icon in the upper right corner of the screen
– Select “All Contacts” to see if any of your contacts have a Snapchat profile.
Attention! Remember that if you add your target to your contacts, your profile may appear in your target’s recommended friends section.
That’s why using X-Ray Contact is a superior search option, as you will be able to stay anonymous and find out more about the target. Just visit the tab “Search” on the website and insert the phone number to receive a full profile, in case it is owned by one of the providers.
Searching by username
Users can search for usernames in the mobile app by simply typing the name into the search bar (located in the top left corner of the app near the magnifying glass icon). If there is a profile with that username, you will see it in the results.
There are various ways to view content in the Snapchat app. Snaps can be found through the search bar, and you can also follow people to see what they’re sharing.
Can anyone see that I’ve looked at their pictures/stories?
It’s important to remember that a content owner can see that you’re viewing their content if you’re using Snap through the mobile app. Your profile can be viewed by clicking on your username and image. When the story is viewed more than 200 times, a simple counter will appear instead of usernames, so it will not work to do this completely anonymously.
Download Snaps/Stories from the mobile app
For snapshots/stories you want to keep, one of the best ways is to connect your phone to your computer and take screenshots/screen recordings. It is also convenient to use an emulator for these purposes, which allows you to save content.
Can anyone see that I “saved” their snaps/stories?
In short, yes. When a screenshot is taken on your mobile device (via an emulator or smartphone app), the user whose content is being copied is notified. An alert will be sent if you take a screenshot of private chats, snapshots/stories, or profile.
To avoid being seen, take screenshots or record your computer screen. You can also record using a second smartphone or digital camera.
If you use Google Chrome, this screen recording extension will be useful for you – link
Search outside of Snapchat
If you want to continue searching by materials that you found on Snapchat, you can go the following ways:
The username you found on Snapchat or some other platform can be verified. For example, we want to know if such a user exists at all. You can use this URL (snapchat.com/add/InsertUsername01) to check it out if you don’t have a mobile phone or emulator handy. Just change “InsertUsername01” to the username you are researching and if the profile exists, bitmoji or profile picture will appear. You can also see the snaps that the user left in the public domain.
If the username does not exist, the content will not be available. Remember that Snapchat, starting February 20, 2022, allows you to change your username once a year. So if a user has changed their name and you can’t find them on the mobile app, use the method above and try to find them through the Snapchat website. You will see the new username displayed just below the bitmoji or snapcode when you enter the old username in the URL (snapchat.com/add/InsertUsername01).
Snapchat related sites
Some websites offer the option to sign in and sign up with a Snapchat account. You can use their database to search. For us, finding a target on such sites is an opportunity to learn a little more about a person, as they allow users to publish additional information about themselves (for example, their gender, age, hobbies, etc.).
Examples of bases Ghostdex.app и Ghostcodes.com.
The username can be used for new searches. To see if a username appears anywhere else on the web, you can use a username search engine like Whatsmyname.app.