Topic: Capturing FacebookTopic: Capturing other social media

Examiner Accounts for Social Media Platforms

Purpose

This document primarily provides guidance on creating accounts for Facebook usage.  However, the information below is generally applicable to creating accounts for any social media platform.

For additional information on collecting social media content, please refer to Page Vault’s Social Media Best Practices Guide.

About Examiner Accounts

Almost all social media platforms require a user account to access the network: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Without logging into an account, your ability to view content on most social media platforms is quite limited. Rather than using your personal account to access these systems though, we recommend creating a work-only “examiner” account to use for social media captures.

IMPORTANT: Do not use the examiner account on multiple devices at the same time, i.e. do not log into the Facebook examiner account in both Page Vault and on your desktop or phone simultaneously. This may trigger the social media platform’s security and lock your account while capturing.

How to Create a Facebook Account

Similar steps can be taken on other social media platforms

Before you begin

To create a Facebook account, you will need either 

  1. an established email address; or 
  2. a working cell phone number that can receive text messages.  

The email address and/or phone number are used by Facebook to verify the account upon creation. They may also be used by the platform to verify that the account is owed by you.

For email

For email, we recommend that you create a work-only account that is used specifically to create and maintain the new Facebook account, instead of using an existing personal email account. We have found that gmail and yahoo email addresses are less likely to be detected as suspicious by Facebook (which may result in Facebook blocking the account-creation process).

For Cell phone numbers

For cell phone numbers, we recommend creating a work-only number that is used specifically to create and maintain the new Facebook account. We do not recommend using an existing personal cell phone number.  

Many online services exist to create new cell phone numbers, where the number can be maintained for months or years at a time. The key feature is the ability to receive text messages from social media platforms. TextMe (https://go-text.me/) is one such service that typically works when creating social media accounts.

Create a Facebook Examiner Account

  1. Obtain a computer that you have NOT used to create a new Facebook account recently. 
    IMPORTANT: If you intend to create more than one account, do so from different computers, ideally on different networks (IPs). Facebook can detect when multiple accounts are being created from the same computer—if multiple accounts are being created from the same location/network, especially in quick succession, they will disable those accounts. See the section below, “Examiner Account Best Practices,” for our suggestions on using examiner accounts with Page Vault.
  2. Visit the Facebook website and begin the “Create New Account” process.  Use the email and/or phone credentials you established earlier.  When asked for the user’s name, do NOT use names such as “admin” or “administrator”, as Facebook will detect that as not being a real person.  Many online name generators exist to help with creating your examiner account name, such as https://www.name-generator.org.uk/quick/.

    Store away your credentials in a safe place, including what email and/or phone numbers are associated with the account. 
  3. Once the account has been created, do NOT friend others or post on others’ timelines.

Use with Page Vault

It is best to have one Facebook account dedicated to just one Page Vault account.  Some clients do use the same Facebook account with multiple Page Vault accounts (i.e., many people have their own Page Vault account, but they share a single Facebook account).  However, this increases the risk of Facebook detecting something suspicious and disabling the account.  

If you do share a Facebook examiner account, be sure that anyone on your team who uses the account for Page Vault knows the email address and/or phone number associated with your Facebook account and can get in touch with the person who controls that phone number—Facebook may send a code to those email accounts or phone numbers in order to verify the user’s authenticity.

To use the Facebook account within Page Vault, simply login to the Page Vault Browser (i.e., the Capture Tool) and navigate to the Facebook page.  Then enter the login and password credentials that you established above. The first time you log in on the Page Vault Browesr, Facebook may require an authentication code to be entered.  This will be sent to the account’s email address or phone number, which can then be entered to gain access to the Facebook account.

IMPORTANT: Do not use the examiner account on multiple devices at the same time, i.e. do not log into the Facebook examiner account in both Page Vault and on your desktop or phone simultaneously. This may trigger the social media platform’s security and lock your account while capturing.

Examiner Account Best Practices

Using an examiner account is just like a normal social media account, but we suggest the following precautions for ethical protections and to protect your account from flagging the systems as a robot:

  • It is best to have one Facebook account dedicated to just one Page Vault account. Some clients do use the same Facebook account with multiple Page Vault accounts (i.e., many people have their own Page Vault account, but they share a single Facebook account).  However, this increases the risk of Facebook detecting something suspicious and disabling the account.
  • Do not add any of your capture targets as a “friend,” especially with the intent to access private information.
  • Do not watch any public “stories” or “story highlights” (this is on Instagram and Facebook) as the account can see who viewed the story
  • Check LinkedIn profiles with caution—the default setting is for people to see that you viewed their profile
  • Do not use the examiner account on multiple devices at the same time, i.e. do not log into the Facebook examiner account in both Page Vault and on your desktop or phone simultaneously. This may trigger the social media platform’s security and lock your account while capturing.

 

For further best practices for social media in a downloadable PDF, please see our guide.

 

Examiner Account FAQs

Will my examiner account get shut down by Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn/etc.?

All of the social media platforms have developed robust security systems to prevent robots, spammers, and malicious actors from accessing their platforms. As a result, sometimes using systems that access the platforms via API or that use automations that go very quickly will trigger the system to think your account is a robot and will be flagged or shut down.

Page Vault is constantly monitoring these activities and changes to the social platforms to make sure that our systems don’t trigger the social media’s security algorithms. We never access the platforms via their API, and have developed our automations to look as “human” as possible. In our experience, we have very few account flags and lockouts. 

If you experience any issues with multiple lockouts, please let our support team know so that we can monitor changes to the platforms’ security.

What do I do if I get locked out?

As the social media platforms continue to increase their sophistication, it’s possible that using Page Vault will trigger something that will cause your examiner account to be locked. In that event, we suggest following the platform’s process for unlocking your account.

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