Social media surveillance: an effective way to skip trace the Millennialsputri
What would your company do if one of your employees committed a fraud, such as embezzling some funds or snatching a company’s property without consent, and then vanished without any trace?
You probably need to conduct an investigation to find that person, and the type of investigation that you really need is a skip tracing investigation. As quoted from Oxford living dictionaries, skip tracing is “an action or practice of locating people who are missing or have defaulted on a debt, especially as a profession”. Skip tracing is one of the most challenging investigations since a client usually only has limited information or data related to the target’s last activity or location.
Luckily, we live in an era where millennials are entering their productive age. This means that most employees in the world are millennials or Gen Y. If the employee who conducts a fraud activity and then vanishes without any trace is a millennial, then we already have a head start in skip tracing the subject.
Gen Y: The Millennials and its social media activities
Based on many research and classifications, millennials are mostly categorized as people who were born between the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The generation before them is called generation X, and millennials are called Generation Y. This generation is called Millennials since most of this generation were born near the millennium era (the year 2000). One of their distinguishing characteristics is their familiarity with communication, media, and digital technology.
In some research and articles related to millennials and their online activities (especially in social media platform), it was found millennials have an addiction to the social media and live for the ‘likes’. They share everything and never worry about their online security and privacy. One of the surveys also resulted in a conclusion 56% of millennials are more likely to share their location. Millennials are very active in social media since they want to gain popularity. Their habits give us a way to find them (if they vanish or run away due to the fraudulent activity or any other related activity by conducting social media surveillance on their social media account.
Social media surveillance
Norris and Armstrong (1999) define surveillance as the process of watching and supervising individuals and populations. Surveillance is a core activity in skip tracing a target. After the information about the subject’s location has been acquired, a surveillance to find the target will be conducted. However, this conventional type of surveillance costs a considerable amount of resources. Nowadays, there is a new way of surveillance called the social media surveillance. Christian Fuchs, a professor in the University of Westminster and the director of the Communication and Media Research Institute wrote an academic article about social media surveillance.
Based on the article, “social media surveillance is a surveillance of profiles that hold information from many different social contexts, that is, of ‘social convergence’.” It also gathers collaborative identify construction with the help of image tagging, wall comments, etc. This information (which is published online in the social media account of someone) can be accessed publicly, and it makes people can conduct surveillance based on these free information. Millennials usually share the location of where they go by commenting or updating a status about their activities and relevant information that is the key to social media surveillance.
We conduct the process of watching and supervising individuals based on their social media account. Since most Millennials will always update everything in their social media account, it will be easier to find Millennials who conduct fraud activity. As the main method of the skip tracing investigation, social media surveillance has already been proven to be effective in surveilling Millennials, even when they have a fugitive status.