SIU Today Fall 2021 - 20

Social Media Update
By Joe Stephenson, CIFI, FCLS
What's the Plan?
Social Media Trends for 2022
If you've watched any Dr. Fraud videos recently, you know that
it doesn't take long for fraudsters to react to changes and use
this information against us. Lately, that includes individuals
pretending to be local or state government vaccination
workers looking to confirm your information, and an
upswing in Airbnb scams as travel has increased. Fraudsters
understand that changes, even small ones, can open doors
and allow them to thrive. Unfortunately, as investigators, we
aren't always as quick at adapting to change, especially when
it comes to social media. But that can be easily overcome with
pre-planning. In this quarter's article, let's talk about social
media trends for which we need to start planning so we can
prevent future fraud.
Just think about the way social media has progressed over the
years. In 2008, Facebook took over as the top platform and
MySpace was demoted to second place. Uploading images,
tagging people, and networking opportunities were the primary
reasons users were on the platforms. However, in 2008, most
of us didn't consider looking at social media for evidence,
and very few of us leveraged Google searches properly either.
Instagram didn't come out until 2011, a year after the iPhone
4, both of which helped popularize selfies. Ten years ago, we
weren't using social media in our investigations, and few of
us had procedures in place to deal with it. But, in the last 10
years, that has changed. We use social media daily in our work
now and it isn't always about finding a person's profile. We
may be looking for arrest information, doing a virtual business
inspection, or even conducting a virtual neighborhood canvass
without knocking on physical doors. You can learn a lot about
someone looking at their neighbor's social media, right?
All these changes meant that we had to adapt. We went from
driving to the courthouse to logging in to the courthouse. We
created new procedures, invented new positions, upgraded
our computers, invested in more server space, software, and
products all to help us assimilate to these new technological
innovations. Unfortunately, sometimes we did these things
20 SIU TODAY | FALL 2021
kicking and screaming or because we had to, instead of planning.
As we get closer to 2022, we need to start thinking about how
our online investigations, and social media specifically, are
going to change within the next year or two. What are the new
trends and what do we need to do to keep up?
To begin, let's talk videos. No real surprise here; they're one
aspect of technology on which we've been a little late to
the game. Video content, especially ephemeral videos, will
dominate the landscape. While Twitter tried, and ultimately
failed, with Vine years ago, TikTok has certainly fueled this
trend. Originally starting off with 60 second videos, TikTok
extended video length to three minutes as of July 2021.
Instagram is fighting back, adding videos to its feeds, while
pushing Reels, IGTV, Highlights and Stories, all of which
continue to grow in popularity every day. Looking from
a distance, we can see that this means TikTok wants to be
more like YouTube, Instagram wants to look like TikTok, and
YouTube wants to compete with Netflix.
So, what does this mean for us? Well, the real evidence may be
buried 87 seconds into a video, and not what is seen on that
thumbnail image. It means we need to spend a lot more time
watching videos versus quickly scrolling through a timeline
or photo array. Moreover, you need to plan to store 287MB of
data for the one TikTok video versus 50KB for a photo saved
off Facebook.
The next big trend will be the continued increase of 'Influencers'
and how people make money from social media. It might
surprise some of you to know that even 'nano' influencers, those
with under 10,000 followers, can still make some decent money.
Depending on the platform, some people can make on average
$100 per post on sites like Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok,
and payment goes up from there. Obviously, actual earnings
vary based on several factors. However, these are real jobs and
the platforms issue 1099s to U.S. residents making more than
$600. This is important to know, especially if you are looking
to verify employment or trying to determine if someone is

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