Investigating TikTok Accounts

Posted on October 27th, 2019

I have had several members of my online video training ask me about TikTok lately. It is extremely popular with younger users, and investigators should take note. The following is a partial excerpt from the book Open Source Intelligence Techniques, 7th Edition.

TikTok (tiktok.com)

TikTok is a social media video application originally created for creating and sharing short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos. Today, it is very similar to Vine, which was shut down in 2016. TikTok allows users to create standard videos of 3 to 15 seconds in length and looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds in length. It is popular globally and was the most downloaded app in the U.S. during various months in 2018. It should not be ignored when investigating younger targets. The data is public, and we need to focus on search, usernames, comments, and acquisition of videos.

TikTok Search: TikTok does not offer any native search options within its pages or profiles. However, third-party resources provide a hashtag search option. I have found TikTokDom (tiktokdom.com) helpful, but prefer TikTokAPI (tiktokapi.ga). Within this page, click on “Hashtag Search” and provide any complete or partial search terms. Searching “osint” provides results of “inosint”, “osintamu”, and any other hashtags containing the term. If you know your exact hashtag of interest, you can navigate to a direct URL as follows, replacing “test” with your target information.

https://www.tiktok.com/tag/test

TikTok Usernames: TikTokAPI also possesses a username search option which behaves exactly as the hash tag feature. If you know your target’s username, you can navigate directly to the profile with the following URL. Replace “test” with your target’s username.

https://www.tiktok.com/@test

TikTok Comments: Similar to Instagram, users leave comments on the TikTok posts of others. These can be publicly viewed next to the video, but the content is not located within the source code of the profile. You could select all of the text, copy it, and then paste into a report. However, I prefer to use Export Comments (exportcomments.com). Paste your target TikTok video URL into the search field and allow the process to complete. Below is an actual excerpt, which includes the exact usernames, date, time, likes, and comments from the target post.

Name Date Likes Comments
daddy.devito 08/10/19 19:51:24 1 lmao sorry for this
alicetsybulski 08/10/19 21:20:31 1 😂 I hate you Trisha!
barbaquesauce 08/10/19 21:25:24 3 😂😂 He’s so weird looking

TikTok Videos: When identifying a video of interest on TikTok, the original video file should be downloaded and archived. The video page does not offer a download feature, and right-clicking does not present any helpful options. Instead, we must either dig into the source code of rely on third-party websites. First, let’s focus on the manual method. Right-click any video page and select the “View Source” option. When the source code is displayed, search for “muscdn” and locate a URL which includes “video” within the path. An actual example follows.

https://v16.muscdn.com/75872b2c9c565afcfce83a9d9779815e/5da50dc4/video/tos/maliva/tos-maliva-v-0068/bf6d76a268fd437b912512d5cdaf41a9/

Copy and paste this URL into a new browser tab to view the full size video, usually in 720p resolution. You can now right-click on this video to save it as a standard mp4 video file. Alternatively, you can replicate this process using the services TikTokDownload (tiktokvideodownload.com) or ExtertsPHP (expertsphp.com/tiktok-video-downloader.html). The ExprtsPHP service also supports numerous additional video hosting websites.

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