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Search engines are an intrinsic part of the array of commonly used “open source” research tools. Together with social media, domain name look-ups, and more traditional solutions such as newspapers and telephone directories, effective web searching will help you find vital information to support your investigation.

Many people find that search engines often bring up disappointing results from dubious sources. A few tricks, however, can ensure that you corner the pages you are looking for, from sites you can trust. The same goes for searching social networks and other sources to locate people: A bit of strategy and an understanding of how to extract what you need will improve results.

This chapter focuses on three areas of online investigation:

1-Effective web searching 

2-Finding people online

3-Identifying domain ownership

1. Effective web searching

Search engines like Google don’t actually know what web pages are about. They do, however, know the words that are on the pages. So to get a search engine to behave itself, you need to work out which words are on your target pages.

First off, choose your search terms wisely. Each word you add to the search focuses the results by eliminating results that don’t include your chosen keywords.

Some words are on every page you are after. Other words might or might not be on the target page. Try to avoid those subjective keywords, as they can eliminate useful pages from the results.

 

Use advanced search syntax.

Most search engines have useful so-called hidden features that are essential to helping focus your search and improve results.

Optional keywords

If you don’t have definite keywords, you can still build in other possible keywords without damaging the results. For example, pages discussing heroin use in Texas might not include the word “Texas”; they may just mention the names of different cities. You can build these into your search as optional keywords by separating them with the word OR (in capital letters).

You can use the same technique to search for different spellings of the name of an individual, company or organization.

Search by domain

You can focus your search on a particular site by using the search syntax “site:” followed by the domain name.

For example, to restrict your search to results from Twitter:

To add Facebook to the search, simply use “OR” again:

You can use this technique to focus on a particular company’s website, for example. Google will then return results only from that site.

You can also use it to focus your search on municipal and academic sources, too. This is particularly effective when researching countries that use unique domain types for government and university sites.

Note: When searching academic websites, be sure to check whether the page you find is written or maintained by the university, one of its professors or one of the students. As always, the specific source matters.

Searching for file types

Some information comes in certain types of file formats. For instance, statistics, figures and data often appear in Excel spreadsheets. Professionally produced reports can often be found in PDF documents. You can specify a format in your search by using “filetype:” followed by the desired data file extension (xls for spreadsheet, docx for Word documents, etc.).

2. Finding people

Groups can be easy to find online, but it’s often trickier to find an individual person. Start by building a dossier on the person you’re trying to locate or learn more about. This can include the following:

The person’s name, bearing in mind:

Different variations (does James call himself “James,” “Jim,” “Jimmy” or “Jamie”?).

The spelling of foreign names in Roman letters (is Yusef spelled “Yousef” or “Yusuf”?).

Did the names change when a person married?

Do you know a middle name or initial?

The town the person lives in and or was born in.

The person’s job and company.

Their friends and family members’ names, as these may appear in friends and follower lists.

The person’s phone number, which is now searchable in Facebook and may appear on web pages found in Google searches.

Any of the person’s usernames, as these are often constant across various social networks.

The person’s email address, as these may be entered into Facebook to reveal linked accounts. If you don’t know an email address, but have an idea of the domain the person uses, sites such as email-format can help you guess it.

A photograph, as this can help you find the right person, if the name is common.

Advanced social media searches: Facebook

Facebook’s newly launched search tool is amazing. Unlike previous Facebook searches, it will let you find people by different criteria including, for the first time, the pages someone has Liked. It also enables you to perform keyword searches on Facebook pages.

This keyword search, the most recent feature, sadly does not incorporate any advanced search filters (yet). It also seems to restrict its search to posts from your social circle, their favorite pages and from some high-profile accounts.

Aside from keywords in posts, the search can be directed at people, pages, photos, events, places, groups and apps. The search results for each are available in clickable tabs.

For example, a simple search for Chelsea will find bring up related pages and posts in the Posts tab:

The People tab brings up people named Chelsea. As with the other tabs, the order of results is weighted in favor of connections to your friends and favorite pages.

The Photos tab will bring up photos posted publicly, or posted by friends that are related to the word Chelsea (such as Chelsea Clinton, Chelsea Football Club or your friends on a night out in the Chelsea district of London).

The real investigative value of Facebook’s search becomes apparent when you start focusing a search on what you really want.

For example, if you are investigating links between extremist groups and football, you might want to search for people who like The English Defence League and Chelsea Football Club. To reveal the results, remember to click on the “People” tab.

This search tool is new and Facebook are still ironing out the creases, so you may need a few attempts at wording your search. That said, it is worth your patience.

Facebook also allows you to add all sorts of modifiers and filters to your search. For example, you can specify marital status, sexuality, religion, political views, pages people like, groups they have joined and areas they live or grew up in. You can specify where they studied, what job they do and which company they work for. You can even find the comments that someone has added to uploaded photos. You can find someone by name or find photos someone has been tagged in. You can list people who have participated in events and visited named locations. Moreover, you can combine all these factors into elaborate, imaginative, sophisticated searches and find results you never knew possible. That said, you may find still better results searching the site via search engines like Google (add “site:facebook.com” to the search box).

 

Advanced social media searches: Twitter

Many of the other social networks allow advanced searches that often go far beyond the simple “keyword on page” search offered by sites such as Google. Twitter’s advanced search, for example, allows you to trace conversations between users and add a date range to your search.

Twitter allows third-party sites to use its data and create their own exciting searches.
Followerwonk, for example, lets you search Twitter bios and compare different users. Topsy has a great archive of tweets, along with other unique functionality.

Advanced social media searches: LinkedIn

LinkedIn will let you search various fields including location, university attended, current company, past company or seniority.

You have to log in to LinkedIn in order to use the advanced search, so remember to check your privacy settings. You wouldn’t want to leave traceable footprints on the profile of someone you are investigating!

You can get into LinkedIn’s advanced search by clicking on the link next to the search box. Be sure, also, to select “3rd + Everyone Else” under relationship. Otherwise , your search will include your friends and colleagues and their friends.

LinkedIn was primarily designed for business networking. Its advanced search seems to have been designed primarily for recruiters, but it is still very useful for investigators and journalists. Personal data exists in clearly defined subject fields, so it is easy to specify each element of your search.

You can enter normal keywords, first and last names, locations, current and previous employers, universities and other factors. Subscribers to their premium service can specify company size and job role.

LinkedIn will let you search various fields including location, university attended, current company, past company and seniority.

Other options

Sites like Geofeedia and Echosec allow you to find tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, Flickr and Instagram photos that were sent from defined locations. Draw a box over a region or a building and reveal the social media activity. Geosocialfootprint.com will plot a Twitter user’s activity onto a map (all assuming the users have enabled location for their accounts).

Additionally, specialist “people research” tools like Pipl and Spokeo can do a lot of the hard legwork for your investigation by searching for the subject on multiple databases, social networks and even dating websites. Just enter a name, email address or username and let the search do the rest. Another option is to use the multisearch tool from Storyful. It’s a browser plugin for Chrome that enables you to enter a single search term, such as a username, and get results from Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Spokeo. Each site opens in a new browser tab with the relevant results.

Searching by profile pic

People often use the same photo as a profile picture for different social networks. This being the case, a reverse image search on sites like TinEye and Google Images, will help you identify linked accounts.

3. Identifying domain ownership

Many journalists have been fooled by malicious websites. Since it’s easy for anyone to buy an unclaimed .com, .net or .org site, we should not go on face value. A site that looks well produced and has authentic-sounding domain name may still be a political hoax, false company or satirical prank.

Some degree of quality control can be achieved by examining the domain name itself. Google it and see what other people are saying about the site. A “whois” search is also essential. DomainTools.com is one of many sites that offers the ability to perform a whois search. It will bring up the registration details given by the site owner the domain name was purchased.

 

For example, the World Trade Organization was preceded by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT). There are, apparently, two sites representing the WTO. There’s wto.org (genuine) and gatt.org (a hoax). A mere look at the site hosted at gatt.org should tell most researchers that something is wrong, but journalists have been fooled before.

A whois search dispels any doubt by revealing the domain name registration information. Wto.org is registered to the International Computing Centre of the United Nations. Gatt.org, however, is registered to “Andy Bichlbaum” from the notorious pranksters the Yes Men.

Whois is not a panacea for verification. People can often get away with lying on a domain registration form. Some people will use an anonymizing service like Domains by Proxy, but combining a whois search with other domain name and IP address tools forms a valuable weapon in the battle to provide useful material from authentic sources.

Source:http://gijn.org/2015/05/05/online-research-tools-and-investigation-techniques/

Categorized in Investigative Research

Of course you know about Google, Yahoo, Bing and AOL, but have you heard of the DuckDuckGo search engine? Well, it’s an internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the “filter bubble” of personalized search results.

A Look at the DuckDuckGo Search Engine

The “filter bubble” is a term coined by internet activist Eli Pariser to refer to the selective information that search engines present to users based on variances such as location, past click behavior and search history. That means that different results are shown to different people. Not everyone who searches for a particular topic sees the same results. While this might be beneficial at certain times, the filter bubble also can isolate and deter you from seeing the entire picture.  DuckDuckGo doesn’t have a filter bubble. And the ability to switch which local region you’re searching in gives you more options and ultimately, a truer search.

 

While its main draw is lack of a filter bubble, DuckDuckGo has another killer feature you may not have heard of – !bangs. By simply appending “!g” or “!google” in the search box you will be taken immediately to the Google search engine. If you type !stackoverflow, !wikipedia or a large number of other similarly well-known web destinations, the DuckDuckGo will bring up these respective websites too. This is pretty clever stuff!

The search engine also doesn’t follow you around with ads.

The anonymous DuckDuckGo search engine provides small businesses with a safe way to search the web along some useful features.

Here’s a scenario; you search for restaurants and go through a few. The next time you want to search for something, the search engine will show you targeted restaurant ads. This could be useful for a variety of reasons, but it is typically a monetization strategy. However, DuckDuckGo keeps a clean, clutter-free interface at all times. “We don’t store your search history,” says the company on their main search page. “We therefore have nothing to sell to advertisers that track you across the internet.”

The downside with this search engine, however, is that it’s not as intuitive as Google when it comes to news. The search engine doesn’t seem to have a section that’s specifically dedicated to News.

Overall, DuckDuckGo is definitely one of the more private search engines around. Its clean design, lack of filter bubble and ibangs makes it a useful research tool if — you need to get out of your bubble and explore some new things on the web..

Author : Antony Maina

Source : https://smallbiztrends.com/2017/01/duckduckgo-search-engine.html

Categorized in Business Research

This list offers some tips and tools to help you get the most out of your Internet searches.

Semantic Search Tools and Databases

Semantic search tools depend on replicating the way the human brain thinks and categorizes information to ensure more relevant searches. Give some of these semantic tools and databases a try.

  • Zotero. Firefox users will like this add-on that helps you organize your research material by collecting, managing, and citing any references from Internet research.
  • Freebase. This community-powered database includes information on millions of topics.
  • Powerset. Enter a topic, phrase, or question to find information from Wikipedia with this semantic application.
  • Kartoo. Enter any keyword to receive a visual map of the topics that pertain to your keyword. Hover your mouse over each to get a thumbnail of the website.
  • DBpedia. Another Wikipedia resource, ask complex questions with this semantic program to get results from within Wikipedia.
  • Quintura. Entering your search term will create a cloud of related terms as well as a list of links. Hover over one of the words or phrases in the cloud to get an entirely different list of links.
  • [true knowledge]. Help with current beta testing at this search engine or try their Quiz Bot that finds answers to your questions.
  • Stumpedia. This search engine relies on its users to index, organize, and review information coming from the Internet.
  • Evri. This search engine provides you with highly relevant results from articles, papers, blogs, images, audio, and video on the Internet.
  • Gnod. When you search for books, music, movies and people on this search engine, it remembers your interests and focuses the search results in that direction.
  • Boxxet. Search for what interests you and you will get results from the "best of" news, blogs, videos, photos, and more. Type in your keyword and in addition to the latest news on the topic, you will also receive search results, online collections, and more.

 

Meta-Search Engines

Meta-search engines use the resources of many different search engines to gather the most results possible. Many of these will also eliminate duplicates and classify results to enhance your search experience.

  • SurfWax. This search engine works very well for reaching deep into the web for information.
  • Academic Index. Created by the former chair of Texas Association of School Librarians, this meta-search engine only pulls from databases and resources that are approved by librarians and educators.
  • Infomine has been built by a pool of libraries in the United States.
  • Clusty. Clusty searches through top search engines, then clusters the results so that information that may have been hidden deep in the search results is now readily available.
  • Dogpile. Dogpile searches rely on several top search engines for the results then removes duplicates and strives to present only relevant results.
  • Turbo 10. This meta-search engine is specifically designed to search the deep web for information.
  • Multiple Search. Save yourself the work by using this search engine that looks among major search engines, social networks, flickr, Wikipedia, and many more sites.
  • Mamma. Click on the Power Search option to customize your search experience with this meta-search engine.
  • World Curry Guide. This meta-search tool with a strong European influence has been around since 1997 and is still growing strong.
  • Fazzle.com. Give this meta-search engine a try. It accesses a large number of databases and claims to have more access to information than Google.
  • Icerocket. Search blogs as well as the general Internet, MySpace, the news, and more to receive results by posting date.
  • iZito. Get results from a variety of major search engines that come to you clustered in groups. You can also receive only US website results or receive results with a more international perspective.
  • Ujiko. This unusual meta-search tool allows for you to customize your searches by eliminating results or tagging some as favorites.
  • IncyWincy is an Invisible Web search engine and it behaves as a meta-search engine by tapping into other search engines and filtering the results. It searches the web, directory, forms, and images. With a free registration, you can track search results with alerts.

General Search Engines and Databases

These databases and search engines for databases will provide information from places on the Internet most typical search engines cannot.

  • DeepDyve. One of the newest search engines specifically targeted at exploring the deep web, this one is available after you sign up for a free membership.
  • OAIster. Search for digital items with this tool that provides 12 million resources from over 800 repositories.
  • direct search. Search through all the direct search databases or select a specific one with this tool.
  • CloserLook Search. Search for information on health, drugs and medicine, city guides, company profiles, and Canadian airfares with this customized search engine that specializes in the deep web.
  • Northern Light Search. Find information with the quick search or browse through other search tools here.
  • Yahoo! Search Subscriptions. Use this tool to combine a search on Yahoo! with searches in journals where you have subscriptions such as Wall Street Journal and New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Librarians’ Internet Index (LII) is a publicly-funded website and weekly newsletter serving California, the nation, and the world.
  • The Scout Archives. This database is the culmination of nine years’ worth of compiling the best of the Internet.
  • Daylife. Find news with this site that offers some of the best global news stories along with photos, articles, quotes, and more.
  • Silobreaker. This tool shows how news and people in the news impacts the global culture with current news stories, corresponding maps, graphs of trends, networks of related people or topics, fact sheets, and more.
  • spock. Find anyone on the web who might not normally show up on the surface web through blogs, pictures, social networks, and websites here.
  • The WWW Virtual Library. One of the oldest databases of information available on the web, this site allows you to search by keyword or category.
  • pipl. Specifically designed for searching the deep web for people, this search engine claims to be the most powerful for finding someone.
  • Complete Planet is a free and well designed directory resource makes it easy to access the mass of dynamic databases that are cloaked from a general purpose search.
  • Infoplease is an information portal with a host of features. Using the site, you can tap into a good number of encyclopedias, almanacs, an atlas, and biographies. Infoplease also has a few nice offshoots like Factmonster.com for kids and Biosearch, a search engine just for biographies.

 

Academic Search Engines and Databases

The world of academia has many databases not accessible by Google and Yahoo!, so give these databases and search engines a try if you need scholarly information.

  • Google Scholar. Find information among academic journals with this tool.
  • WorldCat. Use this tool to find items in libraries including books, CDs, DVDs, and articles.
  • getCITED. This database of academic journal articles and book chapters also includes a discussion forum.
  • Microsoft Libra. If you are searching for computer science academic research, then Libra will help you find what you need.
  • BASE – Bielefeld Academic Search Engine. This multi-disciplinary search engine focuses on academic research and is available in German, Polish, and Spanish as well as English.
  • yovisto. This search engine is an academic video search tool that provides lectures and more.
  • AJOL – African Journals Online. Search academic research published in AJOL with this search engine.
  • HighWire Press. From Stanford, use this tool to access thousands of peer-reviewed journals and full-text articles.
  • MetaPress. This tool claims to be the "world’s largest scholarly content host" and provides results from journals, books, reference material, and more.
  • OpenJ-Gate. Access over 4500 open journals with this tool that allows you to restrict your search to peer-reviewed journals or professional and industry journals.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals. This journal search tool provides access to over 3700 top "quality controlled" journals.
  • Intute. The resources here are all hand-selected and specifically for education and research purposes.
  • Virtual Learning Resource Center. This tool provides links to thousands of academic research sites to help students at any level find the best information for their Internet research projects.
  • Gateway to 21st Century Skills. This resource for educators is sponsored by the US Department of Education and provides information from a variety of places on the Internet.
  • MagBot. This search engine provides journal and magazine articles on topics relevant to students and their teachers.
  • http://web.mel.org/index.php?P=SPT--BrowseResourcesFeaturedResources&ParentId=915" style="color: rgb(0, 82, 163); text-decoration: none;">Michigan eLibrary. Find full-text articles as well as specialized databases available for searching.

Scientific Search Engines and Databases

The scientific community keeps many databases that can provide a huge amount of information but may not show up in searches through an ordinary search engine. Check these out to see if you can find what you need to know.

  • Science.gov. This search engine offers specific categories including agriculture and food, biology and nature, Earth and ocean sciences, health and medicine, and more.
  • WorldWideScience.org. Search for science information with this connection to international science databases and portals.
  • CiteSeer.IST. This search engine and digital library will help you find information within scientific literature.
  • Scirus has a pure scientific focus. It is a far reaching research engine that can scour journals, scientists’ homepages, courseware, pre-print server material, patents and institutional intranets.
  • Scopus. Find academic information among science, technology, medicine, and social science categories.
  • GoPubMed. Search for biomedical texts with this search engine that accesses PubMed articles.
  • the Gene Ontology. Search the Gene Ontology database for genes, proteins, or Gene Ontology terms.
  • PubFocus. This search engine searches Medline and PubMed for information on articles, authors, and publishing trends.
  • Scitation. Find over one million scientific papers from journals, conferences, magazines, and other sources with this tool.

 

Custom Search Engines

Custom search engines narrow your focus and eliminate quite a bit of the extra information usually contained in search results. Use these resources to find custom search engines or use the specific custom search engines listed below.

  • CustomSearchEngine.com. This listing includes many of the Google custom search engines created.
  • CustomSearchGuide.com. Find custom search engines here or create your own.
  • CSE Links. Use this site to find Google Coop custom search engines.
  • PGIS PPGIS Custom Search. This search engine is customized for those interested in the "practice and science" of PGIS/PPGIS.
  • Files Tube. Search for files in file sharing and uploading sites with this search engine.
  • Rollyo. "Roll your own search engine" at this site where you determine which sites will be included in your searches.

Collaborative Information and Databases

One of the oldest forms of information dissemination is word-of-mouth, and the Internet is no different. With the popularity of bookmarking and other collaborative sites, obscure blogs and websites can gain plenty of attention. Follow these sites to see what others are reading.

  • Del.icio.us. As readers find interesting articles or blog posts, they can tag, save, and share them so that others can enjoy the content as well.
  • Digg. As people read blogs or websites, they can "digg" the ones they like, thus creating a network of user-selected sites on the Internet.
  • Technorati. Not only is this site a blog search engine, but it is also a place for members to vote and share, thus increasing the visibility for blogs.
  • StumbleUpon. As you read information on the Internet, you can Stumble it and give it a thumbs up or down. The more you Stumble, the more closely aligned to your taste will the content become.
  • Reddit. Working similarly to StumbleUpon, Reddit asks you to vote on articles, then customizes content based on your preferences.
  • Twine. With Twine you can search for information as well as share with others and get recommendations from Twine.
  • Kreeo.com. This collaborative site offers shared knowledge from its members through forums, blogs, and shared websites.

Hints and Strategies

Searching the deep web should be done a bit differently, so use these strategies to help you get started on your deep web searching.

  • Don’t rely on old ways of searching. Become aware that approximately 99% of content on the Internet doesn’t show up on typical search engines, so think about other ways of searching.
  • Search for databases. Using any search engine, enter your keyword alongside "database" to find any searchable databases (for example, "running database" or "woodworking database").
  • Get a library card. Many public libraries offer access to research databases for users with an active library card.
  • Stay informed. Reading blogs or other updated guides about Internet searches on a regular basis will ensure you are staying updated with the latest information on Internet searches.
  • Search government databases. There are many government databases available that have plenty of information you may be seeking.
  • Bookmark your databases. Once you find helpful databases, don’t forget to bookmark them so you can always come back to them again.
  • Practice. Just like with other types of research, the more you practice searching the deep web, the better you will become at it.
  • Don’t give up. Researchers agree that most of the information hidden in the deep web is some of the best quality information available.

 

Helpful Articles and Resources for Deep Searching

Take advice from the experts and read these articles, blogs, and other resources that can help you understand the deep web.

  • Deep Web – Wikipedia. Get the basics about the deep web as well as links to some helpful resources with this article.
  • Deep Web – AI3:::Adaptive Information. This assortment of articles from the co-coiner of the phrase "deep web," Michael Bergman offers a look at the current state of deep web perspectives.
  • The Invisible Web. This article from About.com provides a very simple explanation of the deep web and offers suggestions for tackling it.
  • ResourceShelf. Librarians and researchers come together to share their findings on fun, helpful, and sometimes unusual ways to gather information from the web.
  • Docuticker. This blog offers the latest publications from government agencies, NGOs, think tanks, and other similar organizations. Many of these posts are links to databases and research statistics that may not appear so easily on typical web searches.
  • TechDeepWeb.com. This site offers tips and tools for IT professionals to find the best deep web resources.
  • Digital Image Resources on the Deep Web. This article includes links to many digital image resources that probably won’t show up on typical search engine results.
  • Timeline of events related to the Deep Web. This timeline puts the entire history of the deep web into perspective as well as offers up some helpful links.
  • The Deep Web. Learn terminology, get tips, and think about the future of the deep web with this article.
  • How to Evaluate Web Resources is a guide by WhoIsHostingThis.com to help students quickly evaluate the credibility of any resource they find on the internet.
Categorized in Deep Web
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