Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Newmark J-School Research Center
Hours FAQ Research Help

Finding People Fast: Finding People and Sources Using Social Media

Social media tips for finding and backgrounding people

Here is a cautionary tale about verifying sources you find on social media: Dan Nainan, The Media’s Favorite ‘Millennial,’ Is 55 Years Old, The DailyBeast, 4.11.17. Thanks to @susancb for sharing this with her class.

To verify user pages, look for other social pages on them, look at the dates the pages were established (if they just joined Instagram yesterday, there is a higher likelihood that the page is fake), check for family members, friends, geographic location evidence, check for birth date in birthday mentions, employment, and review the content of their posts for clues. 

Here's a great case study using social media to investigate a person: Search for Simone: A social media investigation, by Red Goat Cyber Security. Thx to for the tip.

See also Social Newsgathering Research Guide for Reporting.

IntelTechniques Open Search Tools

Facebook searching

Use Facebook to find people and connections between them, by looking at friends, photos, employment, places visited, etc.

Choose to see Posts in your results and you can also choose to see Posts From Public Posts or Public Pages and Groups. Don’t forget to look at the comments to interesting Posts on Pages, like local news stories. 

Facebook can be difficult to search, so also try using this template to search: Whopostedwhat

Instagram searches

Search locations and hashtags in Instagram.

Search My Bio allows you to search within the text of Instagram profiles by keyword - note this only permits searches of influential accounts or accounts with lots of followers.

TikTok searches

How to Locate a user via TikTok via Intelligence with Steve. This process shows you how to "extract their profile picture in full size, any videos, comments on a video as well as who has commented, exact numbers of hearts and followers, and all of the individuals in their network."

LinkedIn searches

LinkedIn Advanced Search (click on "All Filters") searches for users by name, location, title, current or past employment (it's often good to talk to past employees when current ones can't or won't talk to you), and keywords.

Lusha has a LinkedIn Chrome extension that reveals emails and phones in a screen, over LinkedIn profiles. After you add chrome ext for Lusha, sign up at to activate an account for 5 free searches per month.

Improver chrome extension gets you another 10 free searches per month.

Searching for people by username or email handle

This is a clip by OSINT Curious showing how to use tools like or to help find someone's other social media accounts when you have one of their usernames or email handles. You can watch the entire video here. 

Twitter searches

Twitter's Advanced Search page helps you find people by searching for specific connections. You can also use Allmytweets to evaluate a person's posts on one page (at least the most recent 3200 tweets). 

Best Twitter apps for searching:

Create or follow Twitter Lists in Twitter and Tweetdeck to monitor for important community news

Followerwonk search twitter bios and profiles; compare/analyze followers and friends, great for making lists

Twiangulate search twitter bios and profiles; compare/analyze followers and friends, great for making lists

Allmytweets view a users tweets all on one page (only the most recent 3200 Tweets)

Who Tweeted it First search keywords or a link to see who tweeted it first

Tweet Sentiment Visualization  recent tweets that contain your keyword are pulled from Twitter and visualized by an estimate of the emotion contained in the tweet's text

Tinfoleak create a free dossier of a Twitter user’s account. Included Geolocation (when the user has enabled geolocation), topics, hashtags and people mentioned.

DoesFollow who follows whom on Twitter