Digital Threat Assessment Toolkit
Digital Evidence

8.1 Visual Details Matter

Today, most photos are taken with the camera on a phone or tablet and are immediately available for review and dissemination. Photos can also be taken from a social media app. Each app likes to distinguish itself by having different displays with unique app details and fonts. Being able to identify which social media platform an image originated from can save time and is helpful with developing focused interview questions.

To illustrate, here is a photo taken through the iPhone Camera.

photo of gun taken on an iPhone camera

Here is the exact same photo taken through and posted to a few select social media apps. The arrows indicate the unique visual user interface (UI) display features of each app. For example, the photo will look different on Instagram than it will on Snapchat.

Photo Posted to Facebook

photo of gun on Facebook

Photo Posted to Twitter

photo of gun on Twitter

Photo About to be Posted on an Instagram Story (disappears after 24 hours)

photo of gun on an Instagram story

Photo Taken and Posted on Snapchat

photo of gun on Snapchat

Inconsistencies

It is important to notice inconsistencies which suggest that an image has been edited or changed. Look at the image below and try to find the inconsistency.

edited photo inconsistencies

Notice the font difference. The original threat on the Snapchat example shown has been duplicated and then modified with a different (specific) school name. The student has made a simple modification to an existing image found on the internet. This is a common copycat threat.