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  • Social Media and E-Discovery Preservation Tips

    As access to technology and social media sites has become increasingly fluid with everyday functions, it is only natural for such internet sites to contain information pertinent to legal actions. Correspondingly, due to the number of media sites available and the varying types of media content and retention policies each site possesses, it has become increasingly difficult for this data to be tracked down and collected. In fact, the varying technological differences in different media sites have led to the complete nullification of utilizing traditional collection tools.

    Accordingly, the following non-exhaustive list contains five tips that e-discovery practitioners can implement in their own e-discovery investigations when the electronically stored information involves social media.

    1. Preserving the metadata. Social media sites store information and posts, all of which contain different metadata formats. These various metadata formats present a challenge to practitioners. Therefore, it is extremely important for practitioners to have the metadata stored and preserved in a manner that will provide for easy access to the files for review.

    2. Analyzing the relevance of social media metadata compared to other electronically stored information. Although social media evidence may be available, it does not always mean that the evidence is relevant to the case. Other times, social media evidence may be critical to the case and overlooked. The point is, practitioners and IT professionals should implement IT tools that can handle a wide range of data formats to allow practitioners to easily sift through the massive amount of information available through social media sites.

    3. Potentially tiered authentication issues. Practitioners and IT teams should be aware that retrieving the individual’s password alone may not be enough to gain access to social media sites due to the imposition of additional security measures to limit access to this type of information.

    4. Culling the data. With the vast amount of data and information available through social media technology, this will often result in small amounts of pertinent information becoming embedded within a large amount of irrelevant information. Legal practitioners should work with IT teams to implement dataset parameters that will sort the relevant information from irrelevant information for easier storage and review.

    5. Organizing, documenting, and identifying important social media metadata early on. Another challenge when dealing with a client’s social media metadata is the difficult task of assessing what social media is available, what social media data is viewable, and who can view such information. Due to the potential complications this can introduce to a case, practitioners should attempt to identify and organize all of the potentially relevant social media sites. This can be achieved by identifying all of the accounts, the custodians to those accounts, and identifying the keywords and data ranges that will be necessary to preserve such data as soon as possible.

    Due to the complexity of internet building sites, there is a greater need for practitioners to implement tools earlier on in the litigation process to better protect client information and to properly preserve evidence for future litigation.

    If you or your company has any questions or concerns regarding e-discovery related issues, contact Justin F. Capuano at jcapuano@cullenanddykman.com or via his direct line at (516) 357-3708.

    Special thanks to Melissa Cefalu, a law student at Maurice A. Deane School of Law, and Scott Brenner, a law clerk at Cullen and Dykman LLP, for their assistance with this post.