As we wave good bye to 2017, 2018 brings the potential for new and old social media sites to change how the world views and creates social media content. Improved technology in phones, increased broadband across the world, and generational changes are leading to new trends within social media. The ability to keep up with these trends is paramount for law enforcement. Here are Juliet Bravo Solutions’ top trends for social media in 2018.
In 2018, Instagram stories will continue to outgrow Snapchat. Instagram stories are similar to SnapChat and allow a user to post content on their Instagram profile for 24 hours. These stories could be one picture, multiple pictures, or videos that can create a story about an individual’s day. Over 250 million people are using Instagram stories on a platform with 800 million active users. As individuals see their friends using Instagram Stories, many more will migrate to using this feature within Instagram. As with SnapChat, Instagram stories has the potential to limit your access to obtain content posted through Instagram Stories. While a new feature was added that does archive stories, law enforcement must expect they have a short window to obtain this data from Facebook after discovery.
The growth of live streaming will continue to rise in 2018. Facebook Live has pushed the live experience mainstream. Today 1 in 5 videos posted to Facebook is live. Criminals have used Facebook Live to showcase their criminal activity such as in the gang rape of a teen in Chicago, high speed car chases,
and felons showcasing their firearm collection.
Other social media sites have expanded their live features to include Instagram and YouTube. With the ability to broadcast live from one’s phone, law enforcement can expect traffic stops, operations, and arrests that could potentially be on Facebook Live. Cops must prepare for this, whether collecting evidence containing live content or protecting the identity of undercover personnel and vehicles.
The latest fad among those under 25 is digital hangouts. This follows the trend of younger users chilling in cyberspace sharing real time and real-life experiences.
One such hangout, the app Houseparty, has achieved growth of 2 million active users. This app allows users to video chat with up to eight friends at a time. Users can also join chat rooms and have a group chat with random users. The popularity of these apps is evolving into pushing augmented reality onto these platforms. Developers are creating the ability to stream movies while a group of friends are digitally hanging out and creating apps that allows a user to shop and get feedback from their friends. While these apps do tout their security and users can ignore chat requests, like many of the popular video chats that have come and gone over the years, there is the potential for privacy concerns, harassment, and other potential criminal acts.
Lastly, in-platform messaging will continue to grow in 2018. For example, Instagram has reported that more than 375 million users are conversing through Instagram direct, the platforms messaging service. Discovery is the biggest issue with these in platform apps. Direct Messages on Instagram can easily get you drugs from various Instagram sellers. But in less overt criminal activity, how does law enforcement know these conversations are taking place. Direct messaging has and will continue to be a challenge for law enforcement when collecting social media evidence.
Social media is a complex and potentially challenging place. As features evolve; discovery and evidence collection is becoming more difficult. Being familiar with these new features and new apps will aid in recognizing activity that could be pertinent to your investigation. 2018 will continue to see the evolution of social media and advance many emerging technologies.