Social media only seems vaporous. You may not remember posting that photo from your bachelor’s or bachelorette party, but it’s out there.
And no one in your company may remember that social media campaign from a few years ago, or Tweets your marketing department made for a long ago product launch. But someone on the Internet is probably archiving your social media.
In an era of NSA revelations, it’s easy to make jokes that the government has a copy of every phone call or email. But it is actually close to the truth. According to Facebook’s recent report on government requests, the company received 11,000-12,000 requests from American agencies in first six months of 2013. Government groups in 74 countries requested information from more than 37,954 accounts on Facebook, and the company complied with 79 percent of the demands. (Note, however, that the company did not distinguish between criminal and national security requests.)
That’s Just Facebook
And Facebook is just one target for government social media requests. For example, Twitter “received more government requests” for user information in the “first half of 2012 . . . than in the entirety of 2011.” Google says that the number of social media requests, “primarily covering requests in criminal matters,” from government authorities in the United States more than doubled from 2009 to 2012.
And social media is increasingly being archived by other agencies, groups, even interested parties such as school districts. It is also easy to see how social media provides evidence in trade secret cases and other intellectual property (IP) disputes, such as where copying or ownership of IP is at issue.
Social media archiving is now central to many cases, whether parties are ready or not. Griffin v. State, 192 Md. App. 518, 535 (2010), a commonly cited case in this area plainly says, “It should now be a matter of professional competence for attorneys to take the time to investigate social networking sites.” And the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that users of social media “lack a legitimate expectation of privacy in … materials intended for publication or public posting.” In addition, courts have consistently ruled that social media content is not protected from discovery merely because a user marks such content as “private.”
Get Social Media Archiving
Social media is discoverable in litigation and it is often being actively archived by different organizations, agencies, and regulatory bodies. The SEC has made it plain social media is part of a company’s regulated public communications. But there is no reason to be blindsided or surprised by social media in litigation, regulatory matters, or business dealings. Your social media is easily preserved, as is social media from any potential opponent, business partner, or other party you will have dealings with.
We have many tips for social media archiving, but most importantly, companies should know that the tools exist to easily archive all of your social media content as well as that of outside parties or individuals.
Nextpoint has been archiving social media for litigation since 2010. Our Cloud Preservation tool collects, preserves, archives, and indexes all of your online content, including social media. Cloud Preservation provides a comprehensive, forensically accurate, and fully searchable archive of your online content. The data can be easily produced for any request under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or regulatory obligations from industry or government agencies.