The University of Auckland

Project #79: An Investigation Support Tool for Gathering Intel from Social Media



Criminals often use social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and messaging apps. Sometimes they use social media to assist in perpetrating crime, and in other cases simply to interact with friends and associates.

When investigating criminal activity, NZ Police gathers intelligence from many sources, e.g. statements from people, CCTV cameras, ISPs, mobile phone providers, banking records, government departments etc. 

Given the prevalant use of social media, social media offers a potentially rich source of intel to complement traditional sources and to assist with criminal investigation. Currently, investigators often use applications like Facebook to find information that will assist with an investigation, but this is typically done manually. Hence, it's time consuming and ad-hoc to do.

The aim of this project is to develop a tool that automates intel gathering for persons of interest to Police investigations. The project might focus on Facebook and seek to pull out from the Facebook network information about persons of interest, e.g. information that they've shared about themselves, what they're posting, who they're associating with, which locations they've been, what activity they're engaged in using services like Facebook Marketplace. The tool might also enable patterns of behaviour to be identified.

Input to the tool will be provided by NZ Police.


A Web-based intel-gathering tool that allows investigators to navigate a network centred on person(s) of interest.









Lab allocations have not been finalised