It’s never boring with sourcing tools and sites. Things change all the time and, at times, we lose tools.
A major #OSINT publication Bellingcat writes that last week was “a hell week for research”: The past week dealt several blows to open source researchers. First, Facebook made major changes to its Graph search interface, effectively breaking previous methods to search public posts from the site. The service has been valuable in, for example, the investigation of war crimes. Next, the popular people search service Pipl shut down their free service. On top of that, Twitter announced they are removing precise location tagging from tweets. And, on top of that, we have lost LinkedIn search operators – they briefly reappeared on Monday but now are gone again.
Let me give you an update on the Facebook Graph. Lots of researchers have been trying hard to find workarounds. As of now, we have exactly one promising solution that restores much of (though not all) Facebook Graph Search. Almost as soon as Graph was gone, developers who make an OSINT tool “Social Links” have found this brilliant hack: Facebook graph search workaround.
This Firefox Extension – SearchBook – implements the hack. Note that to use the extension, you have to carefully follow the installation instructions. If you try it out, be prepared that the UI is far from being intuitive! You need to enter your search expression in a language similar to Graph’s (e.g. 104958162837/employees/ becomes employees(104958162837)). Then, you perform any search – doesn’t matter what – and as you scroll down, the search results are replaced by the ones matching your terms entered into the tool’s search box.
Some other conversions from the Graph into SearchBook language are:
- 104958162837/employees/past becomes past((employees(104958162837))
- 104958162837/employees/present becomes present((employees(104958162837))
- 104958162837/employees/106078429431815/residents/intersect becomes intersect(employees(104958162837),residents(106078429431815))
- You can also search for employees(pages-named(str(hospital)))!
This is what it looks like:
As it is, the SearchBook UI is too inconvenient, I think, to be using the tool on a daily basis. But if you can’t find the info you are looking elsewhere, it’s a good choice. Let’s hope a nicer UI will be developed.
With all the tool changes, it was time for us to update our book “Sourcing Hacks”. I am happy to announce that the second edition is out as of this morning! Several hacks are out, several new ones are in. Get the book both to enrich your Sourcing Toolbox and to get inspired by exploring new techniques.