Social Media Evidence Shouldn’t Give You a Papercut

We say it somewhat tongue in cheek but ‘Facebook Official’ and ‘Tweetable’ are just a few of the indicators of how embedded social media has become in our everyday life. So too has it become an ever-present facet of the litigation landscape.

It can be easy for counsel to overlook social media or consider it a second thought at the outset of the case. With apps like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on every smart phone and tablet, a significant amount of relevant information can be available for discovery. Timing is critical to first identify that it exists, then capture, preserve and use it to your advantage, or else key information can be lost forever.

Often, a thorough search using Google can quickly identify that a social media account exists for many of the more popular apps. A deeper search by a data collection expert can quickly browse more than 300 different apps for potentially related user accounts. Once the account(s) has been identified, the bigger challenge begins with collecting and preserving the content. As with any other type of evidence, social media evidence is also required to be relevant, authenticated and admissible. So, it needs to be handled with the same due-diligence as any other type of electronically stored information (ESI).

An initial school of thought when gathering social media content was to capture the image (print screen) of everything viewable in the account, print it, redact it and produce it. This can be a pain-staking task and time-consuming exercise. As an example, for one Facebook account, this could equate to hundreds of pages, which must then be printed, reviewed and redacted – hours of time and resources lost when you’re trying to quickly get to the most relevant details. And that is just for one account. The average social media user could have three to five accounts and some may have as many as 10 or more different accounts.

If reading this strategy has left you asking the question, “isn’t there a better way?” then you are not alone.

Fortunately, there is a better way. With the help of specially designed, best practice technology implemented by trained experts, the heavy lifting can be done in minutes which would otherwise take hours or days using the print screen method. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice cost, speed or defensibility by using this technology. In fact, as with most things in the tech-age there is much to be gained by leveraging the right tools and expertise to get the job done.

With best practice technology and the guidance of an expert, you can accomplish in a few hours what would take you days or even weeks using static collection methods. Multiple accounts can be collected at one time, you can review the content in the same format as it would appear live and metadata can be searched and viewed for a full 360 degree look at the content. These are just a few of the benefits of using best practice technology and they all result in time and cost savings with a higher degree of reliability that your obligation is being met.

The next time your case takes you into the world of social media evidence, think twice before you hit Print Screen. Taking a leap into new technology can be daunting, but let’s face it, if you’re looking at social media evidence you’re already neck-deep into the tech world. The best advice is to ask an expert to walk you through the process and the benefits of the technology will not disappoint.

Here are the top 10 benefits of skipping the papercut for social media collections:

  1. Simultaneously collect content from multiple accounts at one time.
  2. Review and search the collected content in the same format as if it was still live and online.
  3. Capture and preserve all hyperlinks in real-time that may not be visible in a static collection method.
  4. Preserve, search and produce useful metadata including, day, time, IP address and geolocation where the content was posted.
  5. Easily access the geotag information of the exact location where items like photos, videos, posts and tweets were created.
  6. Quickly search and cull through all content, including metadata, using keywords, data ranges and other relevant search criteria.
  7. Gain confidence that you are not inadvertently producing private or privileged information through QC analysis tools.
  8. Proactively capture ongoing posts or content changes over time.
  9. Search, review and archive social media data in the same method and format as other case related ESI.
  10. All social media evidence can be reviewed from the comfort of your computer or mobile devise, anytime, anywhere without fear of the dreaded papercut.