Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Paper Review: Social Snapshots

I've just completed reading through a paper presenting a novel method for harvesting data from online social networks. While this tool is not directly related to my study, some of the information presented in the paper was very interesting.

The tool presented is a hybrid system, which uses a custom third-party add-on for Facebook with a web crawling component. The tool creates a snapshot of a users social network data for Facebook containing the following information:

  • Contact Details
  • News Feed
  • Checkins
  • Photo Tags
  • Video Tags
  • Friends
  • Likes
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Books
  • Groups
  • Profile Feed (wall)
  • Photo Album
  • Video Uploads
  • Messages
The tool can retrieve a large amount of data however it requires the target users account credentials or initial authentication token to be known. I feel this is one of the major drawbacks of the tool as to retrieve a social snapshot without the account holders knowledge would require investigators to hijack the users social network session, potentially introducing many legal implications.

While the tool itself extracts more data than what is within the scope of my study and does not perform the social network analysis I am investigating, the research and methods developed will probably be useful for my research.

Social Snapshots: Digital Forensics for Online Social Networks
Huber, Mulazzani, Leithner, Schrittwieser, Wondracek, Weippl
DOI: 10.1145/2076732.2076748

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