There can be a number of reasons why you want to view a profile on a social media platform without being logged on. Maybe your current work role prohibits you from using sock puppets (research profiles) during your investigation, or maybe you’re afraid that there might be a risk of compromise. Whatever the reason may be, we’ve got some tips lined up for you to view profiles on the most popular platforms.
Most of Facebook’s profiles can be views without being logged on. You do have to keep in mind that whenever you want to view more, you’ll have to log in.
If you do want to have a peek without being logged on, you could try to send an archive request via Archive.is. Unlike Archive.org this website scrapes the page with a profile that is logged on. If you’re curious to see how it looks, go to Archive.is, fill in the search query facebook.com/* in the blue box below to see the latest archived results.
Attention! The top red box is NOT for searching but for an archive request. So whenever you’re ready to let Archive.is archive the Facebook frontpage, do use the red box.
Of course search engines like Google can help you see some of the profiles activity whenever they’ve posted or reacted to something that’s publicly available. Some suggestions to use to search:
site:facebook.com "display name"
inurl:facebook.com "display name"
inurl:facebook.com inurl:firstname inurl:secondname
Replace ‘display name‘ with the profile name of your target that’s displayed under their profile photo, replace ‘username‘ with the name displayed in the URL behind ‘facebook.com/’.
Whenever a profile is private, there is not much to see. But when a profile is public, it shows you a couple of posts, but not the whole grid/time line. Previously you’d get a popup asking you to log on in order to see more. By using the add-on uBlock Origin, you’re able to disable the popup and can scroll further down. To enable scrolling down, you can add the following code under ‘My Filters’ in the uBlock Origin dashboard:
This does not prevent Instagram from forcing you to login in, and after several requests from a single IP address, it will force you to log in with an account. Even using an incognito session will only give you a limited amount of results, before the pop-up appears.
Online Instagram Viewing Websites
There are a number of websites you can use to view more of what Instagram is offering you to see. Unfortunately, these sites change quite often. So if this following link won’t work, search on Google for ‘online instagram viewer‘. The one working the best for now if Picuki. Simply fill in the username and select the profile in the results to scroll through the profile.
Next to posts there are ‘stories’. These are photo’s or video’s that are available for a short period of time. Stories can be found on a profile if there is a coloured circle around the profile photo. Viewing those ‘stories’ have a risk of compromise, since the owner of the profile can see whoever is viewing the story.
There are also categorised stories, found just under the bio on the profile. Those can be viewed safely. If you want to view stories anonymously, there are a ton of websites out there that can help you view those stories safely and also let you download them if you want to. Storiesdown.com is one of the options to choose from. And they also offer to view the posts of a profile!
Again Archive.is could be of great help here. They archive the profile with a logged on profile in their scraper. Search in the blue box for instagram.com/* to see the latest additions to their collection.
Attention! The red search box should only be used when you want to archive a page.
Search engines like Google can help you gain some insight on the posts made by an Instagram profile if they are publicly available. This can also help you find content of a private profile, because maybe they’ve commented on a post of a publicly available profile. Here are some search suggestions:
site:instagram.com "display name"
inurl:instagram.com "display name"
Replace ‘display name‘ with the name display in bold on the profile and replace ‘username‘ with the username shown in the URL of the profile just behind ‘instagram.com/’.
LinkedIn is definitely a platform that will not make it easy on you to view content without being logged on. You might get lucky once or twice when you click on a result in Google and will be able to view the profile, but your luck will eventually run out and you’ll be asked to log on.
If you don’t want to log on, no problem! OSINTCurious colleague Dutch_Osintguy is here to help you. Check out this 10 minute video on how to view LinkedIn profiles without being logged on by simply using a website to test is your URL is mobile friendly (click here), copy the HTML and view it in Code Beautify’s HTML Viewer.
Let me bring the bad news straight away; if you don’t have a profile on Snapchat, there is not much to see. Most of the profiles don’t share publicly available content. So if you do want to view something, you’ll need the mobile app because there is no desktop version. And then there is the huge risk of compromise to take into consideration. Whenever you view a snap within the mobile app, the owner of the snap will see that your profile viewed it. Only when 200 or more people have viewed the content does the owner only get to see the number of viewers, and no longer the details of who has viewed it.
If there is publicly available content, you’ll need the username of the Snapchat profile of your target, by going to the following URL: https://snapchat.com/add/Username, where Username is the profile you’re interested in, and sometimes you can view a little bit of what is out there. For example this is the profile of musical DJ DJ Khaled. If you view the content here, the user won’t notice you viewing.
Luckily the website version of the mobile app TikTok lets you view quite a lot without being logged on. If a profile or video is public, you can view it without a profile. Unfortunately you won’t be able to see any comments on a video without being logged on. Although TikTok is quite well indexed by Google, the comments unfortunately are not, so you’ll need a profile in order to see these.
Whenever a Twitter profile is public, you’ll be able to view the tweets and even use the advanced search to go through the profiles timeline. Only when you want to view the media posted by a profile by clicking on the appropriate menu, the likes or retweets, the followers/following, do you need a profile. There is no actual way to go around this, unfortunately.
My platform is not named above!
When the social media platform you’re interested in is not named above, there are a couple of suggestions:
Use search engines like Google to search the platform using the search operators site:platformname.tld or inurl:platformname.tld. Make sure to also search for ‘online viewers’, such like the ones available for Instagram.
Although Archive.is archives social media content quite well, don’t forget Archive.org! They don’t use a logged on profile while scraping, but they can still hold some interesting archived versions. And sometimes the cache from Google, Yandex or Bing can give you a little insight. Click here to read on ‘OSINT on deleted content’, where we dive a little into accessing the cached data.
Just after writing this blog, I also found this amazing write up with even more tips! Check it out over here.
I want a profile!
If you’ve read this blog and do not want to take all of the hassle to find workarounds to be able to view content, you can always consider using a sock puppet or research account to investigate further. If you want some tips on creating and maintaining these accounts, check out this post on how to be a ‘puppeteer’, and this post on how to create profiles on the main social media platforms.