Thursday, September 14, 2017


The use of platforms that employ Artificial Intelligence and deep cognitive learning to social media (SM) inquiries which have applications to both criminal law enforcement as well as in civil due diligence investigations, has yielded useful information that generally cannot be obtained using conventional techniques. They have been critical in criminal gang member identification, successful insider trading investigations, Politically Exposed Person (PEP) verification, and to identify the associates of terrorist organizations.

Criminal syndicates, whether they be engaged in violent acts, or of the while-collar variety, or be radical terrorists, react, on a real-time basis to existential threats, and we must presume that some of these criminal organizations are seeking to implement forensic countermeasures against investigations that troll social data for relevant intelligence. Simply asking their members to refrain from all social media activity is not feasible, nor can it be properly policies, given the wide variety of social media outlets freely available in the marketplace.

There are a number of social media management and social media marketing (SMM) programs commercially available which might be adapted to uncovering one's own gang members, criminal conspirators, or terrorist organization SM footprints, with the goal towards, having once found that information, terminate its future use, but that simply will not work.

Here's why:
(1) Archived information will be available to investigators, even after the current SM information has been deleted. Some of the information deleted will have also migrated to other sites, not necessarily known to the criminal element attempting to shut down its SM information flow.

(2) Criminals are not known for following orders issued by their superiors, especially rank-and-file members working on the street, or in the field. They are generally non-conformists who are only engaged for the fast money that is attracting them. Some may just find alternative SM site to play on.

(3) Family members, close associates not in the organization, friends, followers, and members of their  local social circle are not bound by orders issues by syndicate leaders. Their postings can lead investigators to targets who are themselves deliberately staying offline. 

(4) Many individuals do not realize how much information is already available on SM, on multiple sites, some of whom are obscure but very useful, and closing down all of the places where conspirators either have posted information, or where information has been posted about them by a third party, makes total SM recall impossible.

(5) What about those individuals who have their postings mirrored to many other major SM sites ? One can never find, let alone delete, all those entries. The posters themselves might not even know how many other sites their postings appear one. You cannot put the genie back in the box.

To summarize, even through the use of SMM programs may be able to identify the extent of relevant information, of interest to investigators or compliance officers, one simply cannot remove it all from the Internet, to seal that information resource. Social media investigative platforms will continue to ferret out the data, notwithstanding any efforts to deny it to investigators. SM Platform capabilities will trump any attempts to deny investigators the critical intelligence they require for a successful outcome.

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