How Lawyers Can Use Social Media In Investigations and Process Service
Part 1 of 3: Social Media Surveillance
By Amanda Sexton, On The Lookout Investigations
Social media has opened new doors for lawyers when it comes to investigations and process service.
This first post is part of a three-part series designed to walk you through three of the most important uses of social media within investigations and process service including:
- Social media surveillance vs. traditional surveillance
- Service of process via Facebook
- Social media jury screening
Among the many pros of social media, an unexpected one has come up: a low-cost alternative to surveillance for attorneys and their clients.
Surveillance can be expensive, with minimum time frames and sometimes requiring multiple investigators to properly tail a subject. But there’s a cheaper option – powerful programs that dig through social media accounts for useful information.
You can spend anywhere from $1500 for a standard 8-hour day for surveillance with one investigator and with no guarantees the subject will even leave the house, whereas a social media search can be done for as little as $250.
These searches can pull entire profiles while other searches (still MUCH cheaper than surveillance) can create a social media timeline covering hundreds of sites.
Used by private investigators and law enforcement only, these programs can perform some serious magic when it comes to downloading profiles, authenticating and preserving potential evidence and using algorithms to search for specific keywords across profiles with thousands of pages that may be relevant to a case.
Another bonus to social media searches over surveillance – ease of anonymity. What happens if you’re made while following a subject? Forget about it – now they’re onto you. With social media searches there’s the power of remaining anonymous as you browse the internet and deep web searching for pieces of information to pull together to help support or tear apart a case.
While looking through social media profiles, it can be absolutely mind-boggling how much information people share not only about themselves but their friends and family. Social media searches gather all that information and data to create a cheaper alternative to surveillance.
Amanda Sexton, Director of Corporate Development: On The Lookout Investigations
Amanda Sexton is the Director of Corporate Development at On The Lookout Investigations and DGR –The Source for Legal Support, winners for the past three years of the New Jersey Law Journal’s annual ‘Best Of’ survey. She is currently President of the New Jersey Professional Process Servers Association, a board member of the Legal Vendors Network and attends local and national conferences and training sessions to stay on top of the latest techniques and regulations for both process service and private investigations, including online investigations and social media surveillance.