Investigation into Online Hate Speech - Case Study

Investigation into Online Hate Speech – Case Study

Hate speech in online comments poses a significant threat that can escalate conflicts and poison the social atmosphere. Promoting aggression and intolerance online is not only an attack on the value of conversations but also a threat to the mental health of users. Additionally, it can lead to legal consequences for those promoting such content. In this situation, a client approached us, who is a well-known figure on the internet. Our goal was to conduct an investigation and find the contact information for the person who posted hate speech comments on our client’s profile.

Analysis of the aggressor’s profiles on Social Media

The investigation began with analyzing the aggressor’s profile on Instagram. This person had a fully private profile. Analysis of the profile picture indicated that it belonged to a real person, not generated by AI. Before delving deeper into other accounts of the individual, we checked if they also had a Facebook account. It turned out there was an account with the same name and very similar profile picture. The profile was 80% restricted, with only 3 public photos visible at first glance, along with the location tag indicating where the person resides. Additionally, sections for liked profiles and reviews were discovered.

Tracking online activities

Among the favorite profiles was a hairdresser’s page and a church. While a favorite hair salon could be located even at the other end of the city, in the case of a church, it is highly likely that it is closest to the place of residence. Thanks to the location listed on the profile, the potential residential area was marked on the map from the beginning. Then, a photo with the description “my view from the window” was found, posted in one of the public Facebook groups. In the photo, a smaller building was visible on the right side, with a characteristic TV antenna. In the background, there was a sunset and a cityscape lower than the building from which the photo was taken. Furthermore, from another post in a different public group regarding the theft of a child’s bike in the searched person’s building, the name of a specific street where they live was established.

Determining the location of the place of residence

With the above information, we used Google Earth to locate the building. It was known that we were looking for a significantly taller building than others in the area. After analyzing the map, we narrowed down the area to three long blocks that stood out in height compared to others nearby. Considering the characteristic TV antenna in the original photo, using Google Maps and Satellite view, we quickly located the adjacent block on the right side, which matches the analyzed photo. This allowed us to obtain the precise address of the block with its number.

Key insights from the “Like” section

In the next step, we returned to a more detailed analysis of the “Like” section. Sometimes, this can be a goldmine of information, so it’s important to get to know the profile of the person being analyzed well. Among the liked pages was also a kindergarten page. From the aforementioned post, we know that the person had a child. After an advanced analysis of the kindergarten profile, one comment was identified where the sought-after person listed all family members with their first initials.

Checking CEIDG registers

The final step that tied all the elements together was checking the CEIDG register to see if there was or had been a registered sole proprietorship at the given address. It turned out that the partner of the sought-after person had such a business in the past. The surname, first letter of the name, and address of the block previously determined matched. In this situation, the information we gathered allowed our client to react very quickly and take legal action against this person.

Summary of the investigation

Some investigations regarding the identification of the identity behind a specific social media account can last for several hours, while others are more complex and can take several months to fully understand and identify the verified individual. In addition to passive analysis, in these more complex cases, Verificators also employ active measures through social engineering and establishing contact with the aggressor or using advanced techniques in forensic computing.

Author: Alicja Pawłowska

*For the respect and safety of our clients, all sensitive data has been anonymised for publication purposes.

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