Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

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Archive for the ‘Research links’ Category

Four Free Social Media Search Engines

Posted by Writing PIs on January 9, 2016

Social media search engines offer real-time results (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Social media search engines offer real-time results (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Updated Jan. 9, 2016

Why Search Social Media?

In a nutshell: Social media search tools offer real-time, niche results. Some require that users log in and register via email addresses — rather than provide your personal email address (which could be sold to a third-party vendor), consider using a disposable or masked email address. You can read more about such services in “Protecting Your Privacy: Using Disposable and Masked Email Services.”

Four Social Media Search Engines

The searches listed in this post are free with some offering premium plans for a fee.

SmashFuse: Immediate real-time results in social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo and others. Easy-to-view layout with share buttons.

SocialMention: Real-time search in over a hundred media properties, from blogs to comments to images. It also provides social media analysis broken down by Strength, Sentiment, Passion, Reach, Top Users, Top Hashtags and Sources.

Social SearcherSearches content in social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ in real time. You can also sign up for “monitoring” that includes history, advanced analytics, increased email alerts and more.

#tagboard: This free web services lets you simultaneously search for hashtags on a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, and Google+. It also offers pay-for services, which are geared more to corporations than individuals.

Social Media Search Sites That Are No More

Sorry to see these sites go…

Topsy: This search engine, which offered real-time results and analytics for Twitter, had been around since 2008, but Apple closed it down on December 15, 2015. This used to be one of our favorite search sites, which checked a variety of social networking sites, search engines, websites, photos and more. The search results used to be comprehensive, but these days are slim to nonexistent. Formerly combined results from Twitter and Facebook in an easy-to-read format organized by date stamp, but the site is now dead.

WhosTalkin: This social media search tool once searched conversations in over 60 social media gateways. Although the site is still up, search attempts go into an endless “search spin.” We recently learned WhosTalkin was sold to a private company in 2011.

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority. Please do not copy or distribute any images noted as licensed; any images noted as being in the public domain are yours to steal.

Posted in Free Online Searches, Research links | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Four Free Social Media Search Engines

Answering Writer’s Question: How to Find Someone from a High School Photo

Posted by Writing PIs on August 1, 2010

We’ve been “out in the Internet” teaching classes, meeting writers, fielding questions about private eyes and portraying them in stories.  We’ve had some great questions, one of which we’re sharing today on Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes.  A writer has a situation in a story where the only piece of evidence is a photo from an old high school yearbook, with girl’s first name written on the back of the photo.  The name of the high school is known, as well as the year the photo was taken.  The question: How would the PI in her story go about finding this person?  Below are a few ideas we offered:

Conduct an online reverse search on the photo: There’s an online reverse photo search engine ( where one can submit a photo image, then search for other instances of that photo on the Internet. If all a PI had to go on was a photo, this might be a first search. For example, instances of that high school photo might show up in someone’s webpage, blog, a family reunion site, one of the many high school reunion sites, etc.

Research that high school’s yearbooks: A PI could go to the library in the town where that high school is located. Many libraries keep yearbooks for their local schools going back many years, sometimes decades. A PI could retrieve that high school yearbook, get a list of classmates’ names, find those individuals and interview them about the person (his/her activities, associations, romantic liaisons, and family members).  The PI’s search can be augmented by the use of online proprietary databases to search for the person’s classmates’ current locations as well as his/her current location.

Check with high school alumni organizations: A PI can check if there’s a high school alumni association (often, a high school website will also have a link to its alumni association). Then the PI would contact alumni members who are listed as contacts for the year/s the person attended high school, and ask these contacts about the individual (again, his/her activities, friendships, romantic liaisons, family members). We once found a person this way who’d attended a certain high school back in the 1960s.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Posted in Q&As, Research links | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Answering Writer’s Question: How to Find Someone from a High School Photo

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