If you are a Cleveland native, like I am, or follow basketball, or even just tuned in to Game 7 of the NBA Finals, then you probably know just how unlikely the Cavs win over Golden State was. It was against all odds because of the Warriors’ historic 73-win season. Against all odds because the Cavs were down three games to one going into Game 7 Sunday night. Against all odds because Game 7 was on the Warriors’ home turf, where they hadn’t lost three in a row since 2014. And against all odds because of the curse against Cleveland sports teams since 1964, the last time one of its teams won a championship.
The series had me glued to my seat through the close games and not-so-close ones. There were dramatic plays, dramatic calls, technical fouls, a player suspension, unbelievable fans, and pure heart and athleticism on both sides. And the typically unflappable Stephen Curry even fouled out in Game 6 (not without whipping his mouth guard into the crowd) and was ejected – a first for Curry in his career.
On-and Off-Court Drama
All this on-court drama also got me thinking about last week’s Twitter drama. After referees ejected Curry from Game 6, his wife, Ayesha, tweeted allegations that the NBA Finals were rigged for money or ratings. Ayesha later deleted the tweet and apologized, but not before it was retweeted more than 82,000 times and screenshot by Twitter users and sports writers across the country.
You are probably wondering what Ayesha Curry’s tweets have to do with our work here at Hillard Heintze. Occasionally when conducting an investigation we identify a subject’s social media account information, such as a Twitter handle, but when we try to review the profile we find that it has been deleted. In the past we would turn to the social media search engine Topsy, which maintained an index of public tweets back to 2006. Unfortunately that website was shut down last December, two years after Apple acquired it.
Posting is Permanent
Fortunately for us, searching Twitter and Google can still provide some insight into a deleted account and identify other users who communicated with the Twitter account user before deletion. For example, on Twitter we can search for tweets that were directed at the deleted account. Even though we can only see one side of the conversation, we can at least get an idea of who the deleted account user was communicating with and the nature of their conversation.
If the account was deleted recently, we can also use Google’s cache view to find screenshots of how the account appeared the last time it was indexed by Google, which can be helpful if we need to establish when the user deleted his or her account. We use some of the same techniques in searching other items online that may at first appear to have been changed or deleted. By searching an archived page of a company’s website we might also find interesting intel on the company. For instance, we might be able to see how the company has changed over time. Has it grown? Have its service lines or focus areas changed? Has its leadership changed? What do those older professional bios say, and how do they differ from the person’s current bio?
You never know what you might find by looking at deleted and/or archived information online. Even when you think you know all there is to know about someone, you may discover hidden information that changes your perspective. Even when the odds are stacked against you, keep persevering. Whether in investigations or basketball, you may just pull off a surprise.