Another week, another OSINT workflow. This week we'll take a look at how you can extract Telegram photos at scale using free tools. This guide will use browser extensions with Chrome or Edge and will get you from A to B in 2 easy steps. Let's get started.
Step 1: Find a Telegram Channel
In order to extract photos as scale from a Telegram channel, first you have to find one. Although telegram.org is the domain for Telegram, it's not the domain that's used for channels when viewed from the desktop web browser. Instead, we have to look for t.me. Here's how you can do it using a Google dork.
This tells Google to only show you results for Telegram channels or users, depending on which pages show up. You'll likely see millions of results using on this command, so we're going to have to narrow this down a bit using keywords. In this case, we're going to look for Telegram groups that talk about qanon or have content about qanon in them.
This should yield roughly 1000 results if you're using Google or DuckDuckGo. Here's what one will look like.
Now that we've found a channel of interest, it's time to move onto step 2.
Step 2: Extract the Data
If you choose most links that appear within search results, chances are you'll end up somewhere in the middle of the channel. In the above example, we're landing on the 38th post of that Telegram channel. In order for us to begin extracting, we want to start at the very top. To easily do this without scrolling, replace the "/38" with /1. It should look like this:
Next, you'll have to fully expand the page. You can either hold down the space bar and wait around (which I do no recommend) or you can use an automated scroll tool like Simple Auto Scroll which will do the work for you. It has a slow, medium, and fast setting, all of which should scroll at a safe speed that still allows the page to load.
When the Telegram channel is fully expanded, now it's time to extract all of the images on the page. Now, it's often easy to overcomplicate a task like this. If you ask a developer they'll build a web scraper to pull all images from the page using a specific xpath or HTML tag. If you ask your grandma she'd probably right click and save the images one by one. The easiest solution is probably somewhere in the middle. Using a browser extension called Download All Images, you can quickly download all images on the page and even review the ones you want to download beforehand.
You can select the images you care about, remove things like emojis and duplicate images, and be on your way. The images should download in a zip file where you can easily review, edit, and archive them for your OSINT investigation.
One thing that I realized while writing this guide is that Telegram images or image links are not captured when you use Instant Data Scraper. If you want to capture the content of posts, links, and other text-based content, use Instant Data Scraper; however, don't forget to grab the images using the method in outlined this guide.
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