Uploading photos on Social Networking Sites (SNS) can expose one's location and/or home address. A person must be cautious, especially on sites such as Instagram because they could be exposing themselves to predators or persons with ill-intentions. This usually isn't the case, but it can be very dangerous.
Private Investigators are infamous for being tough and rough. That's why Hannah Kim, who is in this line of work, caught our attention. She is a fierce and dynamic Korean-American female who double majored in Criminology, Law, & Society and Psychology & Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). She is currently working at the private investigative firm, Sunset Blvd. Investigations, Inc. in Los Angeles as an Investigative Researcher.
Criminology is an unfamiliar territory for many Koreans. Upon graduation, one may work for the county, police force, or crime-prevention related fields. Hannah showed great interest in Crime Scene Investigation and hoped to be hired by the county, but the recession and budget cuts forced her to seek other options.
"I realized that I was good at research, especially online research. Of course most people are capable of online research, but I felt I was better because I grew up on these social media sites and knew how to use them well."
Giving up her dream job as an Investigator for the county, she traveled to Korea and Thailand to teach English. Hannah then returned to Los Angeles to pursue her career again. By fate, she was introduced to a private investigation firm in need of a researcher.
"People have this misconception that we only search for 'shady' individuals, but the reality is quite far from what it seems. We always start with a consultation with potential clients and adhere to a high standard of morals and ethics. Our cases can be very complex and more advanced than one may assume."
Hannah is not a licensed private investigator yet, but thanks to her degree in Criminology, she will qualify to take the test for her State License after two years of working full-time with the firm.
As we take a deeper look into investigative research, we see that the Private Investigator's research tools are available in a number of databases. Some are public records and other databases are available only to licensed investigators. At the conclusion of their investigation, they provide a detailed report to either the client and/or the client's attorney of their findings. Hannah's social media and investigative research is part of what makes up the final report.
The Private Investigator's first step and the most critical is the initial consultation with the potential client regarding the purpose of the investigation and what the information requested would be used for. She noted that this process may take a considerable amount of time.
Hannah has been using her specialty in social media research to discover extensive amounts of information that has helped numerous clients and attorneys. In one example, Hannah stated, "We were searching for an individual who was in hiding. We were able to find their Instagram and view all the photos they had uploaded."
Hannah was then able to download and analyze the photos, and find the actual address of where the photo was uploaded. An easy catch if you're experienced like Hannah and a great example of the importance of social media research.
Hannah offered one last piece of advice, "One often makes the mistake of overly exposing their personal lives on social media." She advised, "One should be wise in deciding what information to share and keep public, and also to make sure to configure the privacy settings on all their social media accounts to fit their personal needs."