Identifying offenders on Twitter: A law enforcement practitioner guide

Graeme Horsman, Kevin Ginty, Paul Cranner

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    Twitter remains one of the most popular social media network sites in use today and continues to attract criticism over the volume of unsavoury and illegal content circulated by its users. When breaches of legislation occur, appropriate officials are left with the task of identifying and apprehending the physical user of an offending account, which is not always a simple task. This article provides a law enforcement practitioner focused analysis of the Twitter platform and associated services for the purposes of offender identification. Using our bespoke message harvesting tool ‘Twitterstream’, an analysis of the data available via Twitter's Streaming and REST APIs are presented, along with the message metadata which can be gleaned. The process of identifying those behind offending Twitter accounts is discussed in line with available API content and current Twitter data retention policies in order to support law enforcement investigations surrounding this social media platform.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-74
    JournalDigital Investigation
    Early online date23 Sept 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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