twitter and osint

OSINT and Twitter: How to Use Twitter for OSINT Investigation

Twitter is one the biggest social media platform beside Facebook or Instagram. It’s based on 280 limit characters. On November 2017 Twitter has doubled it limit from 140 to 280. There are a lot of things that you can found on Twitter for example people name, interest, or topic that has been discussing in a real time or in the past. How is Twitter work or used is, for the first-time user can create an account that will include name and email with phone number. All user can write post about topic, interest or anything. Beside posting, user also can follow with each other.

Obtain information from social media Twitter for OSINT investigation is very easy if you know the correct techniques. What you need is actually just a dummy account and virtual device. A little note in here, never use your real account. You can actually use Twitter platform itself from using their official search include the advanced search or with sync your contact by saved the email address of your target, and with search operator to maximize and filter your result.

Twitter Official Search

Let’s start from with Twitter built in search. If you go to the official website, you will not find the search button without login.  If you do not have an account you can go to standard search. Try to hit some keyword on the search bar. Twitter also has another advanced search that you can use to maximize the result. When you open the advanced search, you can use the help keyword below.

Twitter Built-In Search

  • All of these words

You can enter a lot of words that related to information that you looking for. Note, words order is ignored so, you can enter anything without thinking about the order.

  • This exact phrase

This will return the exact match of keyword. This is the same as Google search operator query with quotes that return all pages that contain exact keyword

  • Any of these words

You can provide all this box with all the unique term and Twitter will return all result that contain the term. Think this as OR operation in Google search operator.

  • These hashtags

Hashtag is a word or phrase that follow by # sign, it used on Twitter to identify digital content or specific topic. Try include this in advanced search

  • From these accounts

This will allow to find information from specific person. You can start by typing its username

  • To these account

This section will allow you to identifying all tweet that associated or related to an account

  • Mentioning these account

You can use these field to get all tweet that mention an account name that you type in this section

  • Filter

There two type of filter you can use here. The first one is replies and links. Filter replies you can choose to include replies and original tweets or only show the replies. In links filter you have option to include tweets with links or otherwise.

  • Engagement

With engagement option you can choose to filter minimum replies, like or retweets.

  • Dates

This is the last field on twitter advanced search, with dates option you can choose the start to any dates as you like with format day, month, and year.

Find an account with email address

This is another great way to obtain data from user with email address. Sometimes, people create an account on Twitter without using their real number because a couple reasons maybe they don’t want to stand out or for anonymity.

But most of the time even they don’t provide the real name they still using or create an account with real email address. We have to admit it, most of the time people create an email with real username unless it’s already taken by someone else.

So how to search account on Twitter with email address? Let me tell you, this technique only works on twitter version of mobile and you need to have an account. This feature not available on desktop version. Till this blog is written the tricks still work, I don’t know if in the future Twitter will going to disable it or not.

I said before that you need an account, to be clear a dummy account. Never use your real account. Next step you need a device android with Twitter app installed. I recommend you have to use an emulator device. Well, unless you very big resource to have physical device that only used with OSINT investigation but I still prefer if we using the emulator version because it will cost less.

If all the requirement is ready than let’s start. First, we need to allow Twitter apps to read and synchronize our contact on the phone. This is important because this way we can get all the account with email address that we have on our contact. This is another reason why I prefer running the investigation with emulator device. Because I don’t want Twitter associate with my real account. You can follow the next step below

  • Open the Twitter apps
  • Click on your profile picture / access the menu on the left
  • Go to settings and privacy
  • Privacy and safety
  • Discoverability and Contacts
  • Tick the option “Sync address book contact”

That’s it, if you following all the step correctly now you may find a person with email address that saved on your contact. Usually, Twitter will give you a notification bar with “Find your friend on Twitter”. Click it and it will show you “Suggested Follower” will all account that match with email address on your contact.

Twitter Search Operator

The last trick that I need to tell you here, is the operator search that build in Twitter. You do not need to have an account for this technique. Let’s follow the list below about how to use the Twitter search operator.

  • Use quote mark for example “cyber attack” will return all tweet that contain that term
  • From:account_name will return all tweet from specific account
  • #cat will find tweet that contain specific tag
  • to:satno_nugraha will find tweets that sent or mention to account satno_nugraha
  • you can also try combine the from and to operator to:satno_nugraha from:account_name
  • song -sad will find all related tweet that contain song but not contain sad keyword


That’s all for the using built in Twitter search functions. Using these techniques can help you get a quick information that you need from twitter regardless by name of a person, topic or interest. Good luck with your OSINT investigation on social media Twitter.


One response to “OSINT and Twitter: How to Use Twitter for OSINT Investigation”

  1. Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up!

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