Site icon Andrea Fortuna

OSINT, the secret weapon of 4channers

“A good rule of the Internet is to never tell 4chan something is impossible.”

What happened between Shia LaBeouf and some users of 4chan?

The news now is fairly well known, but I try to summarize the main points of a story that shows that nothing is impossible, when you properly use sources freely available on internet (OSINT), and a good dose of cleverness.


Shia LaBeouf decided to launch a protest against Trump: an art exhibition called “He will not divide us”, which consists of a live video along all the duration of the Trump presidency.


However, during the event, some users of 4Chan (pro Trump) go on the exibition site and starts a protest.
The protest ends in a brawl.

Capture the Flag!

After continuous provocations, and the complaints from local residents, the live video is closed and LaBeouf decides to move the video transmission into a secret location: now only shows a flag waving in the wind with the catchphrase “He will not divide us“.

At this point the 4chan’s trolls starts an investigation using the free resources available on the internet.

First of all, observing the wind, they speculate that the flag could be located in Salt Lake.

But after LaBeouf was sighted in Greeneville, and after controlling wind directions and times of sunset and sunrise, it is determined that in fact is located in Greeneville.

The area is large, and to narrow it the “investigators” starts studing the trails left by aircraft: crossing the routes of three aircrafts, they get a more defined area.

At this point, using the positions of the stars visible at night, they get a small area of few square kilometers, so a member of 4Chan living in this area decides to go out with his truck and sound the horn to see if at some point it feels in the live video.

In minutes, the flag is found, lowered and removed, and in its place appears a Trump “Make America Great Again” hat and a Pepe the Frog t-shirt.

The next morning Shia LaBeouf, defeated, switch off the video.

The flag now rests in the home of a 4chan user:

Here the original article on

But, what is OSINT?

From Wikipedia:

Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is intelligence collected from publicly available sources.

OSINT includes all publicly accessible sources of information, such as: