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How to find the creation date for any Facebook profile

Craig Silverman
Craig Silverman
Welcome to the latest issue of Digital Investigations! I don’t want to be a drag on your inbox so you can click here to unsubscribe, or scroll to the bottom and click the link there. To be clear, I’m not asking you to go! I just want to make sure I’m reaching people who are interested in this content.

Earlier this year, I spent a few months investigating Facebook Marketplace, the social giant’s wildly successful peer-to-peer sales product. We uncovered how the company fails to protect buyers and sellers from scam listings, fake accounts and violent crime. The story took months of work, and was based on internal documents, interviews with workers, law enforcement records, and work I did to document scams and fake accounts on Marketplace.
While uncovering a network of hundreds of fake/suspicious accounts that posted thousands of listings which violated Facebook’s rules, I stumbled upon a really useful trick: I figured out how to view the Marketplace listings of any Facebook profile. This is really useful when you’re investigating a Facebook account.
Prior to doing this story, I wasn’t aware of a way to query whether a Facebook profile has Marketplace listings. It’s of course easy within Marketplace to view all the listings for a seller. Just select a listing and then click on the seller’s name. You’ll see a seller profile like this:
One of the nice things about a Marketplace seller profile is it always tells you the year an account was created. This information is often hidden on a person’s main profile. Marketplace listings can also help you nail down the location of a person, as they tend to post items tagged to the area where they live. In the above example, they appear to be based in Desoto, Texas. A Marketplace seller profile will also show you if a person shared their item(s) in buy and sell groups. That opens yet another avenue of investigation:
These are all reasons why the trick I’m going to share should become a standard part of your Facebook account research process. Along with trying to view friends, posts, likes, check-ins etc., you should check if they have Marketplace or buy and sell group listings, and view the account creation date.
Now you know why this is useful. Let’s get to the tip.
Here’s the formula to view the Marketplace seller profile of any Facebook account:
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/?seller_profile=[account ID]
Let’s break it down.
Cut and paste this into your web browser of choice but don’t hit enter:
facebook.com/marketplace/?seller_profile=
Now you need to add the Facebook ID of your target account after the “=”.
What’s an account ID? Every Facebook account is given a unique ID. Even an account like mine with this URL:
facebook.com/silvermancraig/
…originally started with a series of numbers where you now see “silvermancraig.” Some Facebook accounts never enable their vanity URL, so the ID will always show up in the browser address bar when looking at a profile. An example would be this Facebook account URL, which belongs to one of the many suspicious accounts I discovered during our investigation:
In this example, the Facebook ID is 100056645303369. (We’ll come back to this profile in a second.)
But when you encounter vain folks like me who customize their profile URL, you need a way to retrieve their ID. Fortunately, it’s easy thanks to websites like lookup-id.com.
Just paste in the full URL of a Facebook account and the site spits out the ID. Here’s what it looks like for my account:
Last step: Take the ID number shown in red (100000675881347) and paste it at the end of the magic Marketplace seller profile URL. For example, this is my seller profile:
facebook.com/marketplace/?seller_profile=100000675881347
As of this writing, I don’t have any listings but, importantly, you can see that I created my account in 2010. This account creation info is not shown on my regular Facebook profile. But you can see it on my Marketplace seller profile.
As for the suspicious account I shared earlier, you can look at all of her dodgy listings (which violate Facebook’s rules!) by pasting her account ID at the end of that same URL formula:
facebook.com/marketplace/?seller_profile=100056645303369
Now that you know this trick, you can look at the Marketplace listings for any Facebook account, and uncover the year any account was created.
Use it wisely!
Worth Reading
Bellingcat contributor Giancarlo Fiorella recently published a guide to getting started in open source research. I love that he focuses on identifying your areas of interest, following people and getting involved in the community, and observing and practicing. Guess what he doesn’t detail in depth? Tools! You need to get into the right frame of mind and understand how to do this work before the tools are truly be useful. I emphasize this all the time in trainings: Mindset matters more than tools.
First Steps to Getting Started in Open Source Research - bellingcat
This is a great Twitter thread showing how to geolocate an image and find the person pictured. Yes, it involves tools like reverse image search and Facebook search. But they’re useless unless you know how to apply them to answer key questions, what order to do that in, and the steps to take when some of the tools (inevitably) come up empty.
Brecht Castel
This picture was put online in Denmark 🇩🇰, shared 424K times and viewed by 44M people. 😲

@snopes and @Knack got in contact with this woman for a #FactCheck. How did we find her? 👇👇👇1/...

#OSINT 🔎
#GeoLocation 🌎
#Verification 📸
#HowTo #SpeurJeMee?🧐 https://t.co/zlpyFZ8uoW
Ladies and gentlemen, meet OSINT Adele. Here’s a notable passage from a Rolling Stone feature about the singer:
That’s it for this issue. Thanks for reading!
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Craig Silverman
Craig Silverman @craigsilverman

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