Social Media is becoming an increasingly important—and controversial—investigative source for law enforcement. This project provides an overview of the current state of digital forensic investigation of Facebook and other social media networks and the state of the law, touches on hacktivism, and discusses the implications for privacy and other controversial areas. The authors also point to future trends.

About Forensic Studies for Criminal Justice:
The Forensic Studies for Criminal Justice series consists of short-format content on new developments, unique perspectives, or how-to information on areas in forensic science—all specifically designed to meet the needs of the criminal justice community. Instructors wishing to provide their students with more in-depth coverage on certain forensic areas can add these digestible, inexpensive works to their syllabi without having to completely redesign their course, introduce overly complex material, or financially overburden their students. Law enforcement and other criminal justice professionals will find a wealth of valuable information to improve training sessions. Written by experts in the disciplines they are covering and edited by a senior scholar in criminal justice, Forensic Studies for Criminal Justice opens up the world of forensic science to the criminal justice community.

Key Features

  • Part of a new Anderson series presenting brief works on forensic science, written especially for students and law enforcement
  • Surveys the current state of the digital forensic investigation tools available for social media, looking at legal concerns and pointing to future trends
  • Discusses the types of crimes committed using social media, including hactivism, burglary, malware, cyberbullying, and child exploitation, among others
  • Case studies of domestic and international social media investigations


Criminal justice students, law enforcement, digital forensics students, general readers interested in topics in forensic science

Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments Chapter 1 Introduction to Social Media 1.1 Definition of Social Media 1.2 A Very Brief History of Social Networking 1.3 Types of Social Media 1.4 Social Software Building Blocks 1.5 Accessing Social Media 1.6 Conclusion References Chapter 2 How Social Media Is Used 2.1 How Social Media Is Commonly Used 2.2 Criminal Uses of Social Media 2.3 Conclusion References Chapter 3 Investigative Uses of Social Media 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Leveraging the “Wave” – Utilizing Social Media for Official Department Use 3.3 The Usage of Social Media in the Course of Criminal and Civil Investigations 3.4 Understanding the “Forensics” of Social Media Evidence References Chapter 4 Social Media and the Law: Legal Considerations 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Social Media and the First Amendment – A Changing Landscape 4.3 Search and Seizure of Social Media – A Legal Perspective 4.4 Utilizing Criminal Procedure to Obtain Social Media Evidence 4.5 Capturing of Social Media Evidence – Legal Considerations 4.6 Conclusion References Chapter 5 Moving Forward 5.1 Investigative/Intelligence Changes 5.2 Monitoring of Criminal Activity via Social Media 5.3 Future Legislation 5.4 Negative Effects of Social Media 5.5 Proliferation of Social Media 5.6 Challenges that Lie Ahead 5.7 Conclusion Reference Appendix 1: Sample Social Media Preservation Letter Request Appendix 2: Sample Social Media Subpoena Request Appendix 3: Sample Social Media Court Order Appendix 4: Media Emergency Disclosure Request Form


No. of pages:
© 2013
Electronic ISBN:
Print ISBN:

About the authors

Joshua Brunty

Joshua L. Brunty is Assistant Professor of Digital Forensics at Marshall University . Josh holds numerous certifications within the digital forensics discipline including: AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE), Computer Hacking Forensic Examiner (CHFI), Seized Computer Evidence Recovery Specialist (SCERS), Certified Malware Investigator, Certified Steganography Examiner, and is certified by the National Security Agency in Information Assessment Methodology (NSA-IAM). He is a member of the Institute of Computer Forensics Professionals (ICFP), the Mid-Atlantic Association of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA), the Digital-Multimedia Sciences section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), the West Virginia Cyber Crimes Task Force, and the West Virginia Chapter of FBI INFRAGARD.

Katherine Helenek

Katherine Helenek holds a Master’s of Forensic Science specializing in Digital Forensics, Forensic Chemistry, and Crime Scene Investigation from Marshall University. She is an AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE) and a member of the Appalachian Institute of Digital Evidence (AIDE). She is now a Forensic Examiner with Digital Intelligence.

About the editor

Larry Miller

Larry S. Miller is Distinguished Professor and Chair of Criminal Justice and Criminology at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). He received his Bachelor of Science from ETSU, a Master of Science from Eastern Kentucky University, and his Ph.D. in Health & Safety with collaterals in Forensic Anthropology and Criminology from The University of Tennessee. Miller, who has worked as a police officer, criminal investigator, and crime laboratory director, teaches in the area of law enforcement and is the author of several books on topics including criminal investigation, criminal justice report writing, police photography, and more.


"This project provides an overview of the current state of digital forensic investigation of Facebook and other social media networks and the state of the law, touches on hacktivism, and discusses the implications for privacy and other controversial areas. The authors also point to future trends."--The Journal, Fall/Winter 2013