What is the importance of user identification numbers in social media investigations?
In this tutorial, we will discuss about the importance of user id’s during social media investigation and we will learn how to track user’s facebook, instagram and twitter account id’s.
What are user id’s?
User id’s are also called user identifier or UID. These id’s are used by social applications like facebook, twitter etc to store user details in their databases.
These id’s are associated to one user only and these id’s are not editable by the user.
Importance of user id’s in investigation
During investigation on social media, it is very important to record the user ID’s because it is not editable by the user. The user id’s are unique.
It is easy to track a user by their user id’s, instead of searching user by name or username.
During request from law enforcement, it is required to give them user id’s.
What are Name & Username on Social Media?
As mentioned image above, that contain the name “CCA Society” which is of twitter profile. The name is decided by the user himself, which is therefore changeable, this make difficult to track the account based on the name.
The name of account is not unique i.e the name of multiple accounts can be same which make it difficult to track an account based on the name.
Username on social media are different from the “name” i.e the username are unique. E.g as mentioned in the above image, the username is “@cca_society” which has been decided by the user.
Searching a user by username is much more easier rather then searching a user by name because the username are unique and associated to one account only. But,
The main problem is usernames are changeable which can make difficult to track the user based on usernames.
How to get user id’s of a user
There are lot of tools available on internet nowdays which is easy to get user id’s of a user.
But it is good if we do it manually.
How to get user id of a facebook profile
Step 1: Open facebook.com on a chrome / firefox of a laptop / computer.
Step 2: Now open a profile of user, in this example we are navigating to profile https://facebook.com/milind.cfe
Step 3: Right click on the profile and select view page source or press “Ctrl+u”
Step 4: Now search “userID” in the page source, you will see userId of a user like :100001733165721
Step 5: Check the userID is correct or not. To do this open www.facebook.com and paste “/100001733165721” directly after the URL. So the full URL you get is www.facebook.com/100001733165721. Does this URL lead to the profile with the username “milind.cfe”? Then you have found the right profile.
How to get user id of a instagram profile?
Step 1: open an instagram account on chrome / firefox of a laptop / computer you want to track, e.g https://www.instagram.com/milind.cfe
Step 2: After the url https://www.instagram.com/milind.cfe, type “/?_ _ a = 1”, so the url will become https://www.instagram.com/milind.cfe/?__a=1.
Note: if you open the url, on chrome browser it will show the raw data. Try to use Firefox web browser because it will convert the raw data in JSON format.
Step 3: After the loggin_page_od there is a value that is a user id of that account, in our example the user id is 3414143809
Step 4: Now, check the id is correct or not. open the url https://i.instagram.com/api/v1/users/3414143809/info/ and replace id with your target id. You will encounter an error that “useragent is mis match” which means we are not using correct user agent to get result from instagram web server.
Step 5: Install the extension “User-Agent Switcher and Manager” to spoof the user agent. Extension: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/user-agent-string-switcher/
Step 6: Check for suitable user agent for instagram on the site https://developers.whatismybrowser.com/useragents/explore/software_name/instagram/.
We are going to use the useragent:
“Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 9; SM-A102U Build/PPR1.180610.011; wv) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Chrome/74.0.3729.136 Mobile Safari/537.36 Instagram 18.104.22.168.107 Android (28/9; 320dpi; 720×1468; samsung; SM-A102U; a10e; exynos7885; en_US; 239490550)”.
Step 7: Copy and paste it in user agent as shown below.
Step 8: Now hit the url again https://i.instagram.com/api/v1/users/3414143809/info/ it will show the data correctly.
Note: Do not forget to reset the settings of user agent spoofer.