For those of us who are not in the Gen Z population, TikTok and Snapchat  may be a complete mystery. With most app users in their teens oryoung adults, many describe TikTok and Snapchat loosely as a social network for amateur music videos and photo taking. But how can this be used in PI work? The Covert Results team has taken a class from Legal and Liability Risk Management Institute (LLRMI) on how to incorporate TikTok and Snapchat into your investigation. 

TikTok is an application/website where users can upload videos ranging from 15 seconds, and those clips can be strung together to create a video story of up to 60 seconds long and recently users have been allowed to upload videos up to 3 minutes long. Now the trick is finding your target’s profile. A new way to find their profile is to add their phone number into your contacts. TikTok has a development where you can find “friends” via your contacts. This is a good way to locate a profile if you are unsure of the person’s username. 

Another way TikTok can be utilized is their storage of videos. Although some users may delete their videos, TikTok will store even deleted videos for at least a month without a spoliation letter. In the event you are needing a video recovered, TikTok has an email address to send spoliation letters, subpoenas, and warrants on their various information. These are just a few ways TikTok can be useful when conducting an investigation. Another useful App could be Snapchat. 

Snapchat is an Apple and Android app.  One of the core concepts of the app is that any picture or video or message you send – by default – is made available to the receiver for only a short time before it becomes inaccessible. This temporary, or ephemeral, nature of the app was originally designed to encourage a more natural flow of interaction. The newer developments of Snapchat have moved to SnapMaps. 

These Maps can be viewed by user’s friends to see where they are. Although some people are wary of just adding anyone on Snapchat these days, you can still view “stories” in certain locations. These stories can be posted to a main video feed directly accessible to anyone who wants to move their map to that area and view it. An investigator would be able to have a date and time stamp of a person’s exact location with access to this map. 

If an investigator or lawyer is needing access to any Snapchat information they will need to follow the guidelines of  the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701, et seq. The SCA mandates that Snapchat disclose certain Snapchat account records only in response to specific types of legal process, including subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants. Preservation letters should be sent immediately in the event you need Snapchat to preserve account records. These records can show the date/time/IP addresses of information sent. This can be useful to try and establish a relationship between two parties. 

Social Media can be a very powerful tool to get the results you need. Many investigators overlook the possibilities of these applications in helping push along their investigation. Covert Results Investigators have taken the time to understand these apps in an effort to give our clients the best results possible. 

Covert Results is a private investigations and security company with over 100 years of experience. Our team of highly trained investigators and security experts are well versed in all types of investigations and security matters. We now have two dedicated offices, in Nashville, Tennessee and Clarksville, Tennessee. For questions about private investigations, professional security, handgun training, or consulting please email, call, or visit our website.   615-861-1680