A multi-part update series reviewing recent news, resources, and cases related to social media and the technical and legal challenges it creates in eDiscovery
As a review of almost any day’s news will demonstrate, social media remains an influential, indispensable part of American life – for better or for worse. Our usage of social media has grown dramatically over the past fifteen years:
When Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in 2005, just 5% of American adults used at least one of these platforms. By 2011 that share had risen to half of all Americans, and today 72% of the public uses some type of social media.
Our high rate of usage has continued, without abatement, “despite a long stretch of controversies over privacy, fake news and censorship on social media” [internal hyperlinks omitted]. And, our creation of new materials on these platforms continues to grow each year:
As social media has been working its way ever deeper into our relationships, our professional activities, and our culture as a whole, its impact on discovery has been growing as well:
In 2019, in recognition of this growing impact, the Sedona Conference published a Second Edition of its Primer on Social Media to help practitioners meet the eDiscovery challenges posed by social media evidence:
The need for an updated Primer was essential given significant advances in social media technology since we published the first edition of The Sedona Conference Primer on Social Media in December 2012. The proliferation of messaging technology and its usage – on traditional social media platforms and in mobile messaging applications – have created preservation, production, and evidentiary challenges that counsel should learn to recognize and address. [emphasis added]
Although there are numerous social media services and applications, the vast majority of use activity is centered on a few services: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, and WhatsApp. According to the Pew Research Center’s June 2019 Social Media Fact Sheet, 73% of US adults use YouTube, 69% use Facebook, 37% use Instagram, 28% use Pinterest, 27% use LinkedIn, 24% use Snapchat, 22% use Twitter, and 20% use WhatsApp. These eight services – Facebook in particular – will be your most likely social media sources:
Among the users of these social media sites, many use the sites daily: 74% of Facebook users, 63% of Instagram users, 61% of Snapchat users, 51% of YouTube users, and 42% of Twitter users. Interestingly, despite these sites’ continued popularity, public trust in them as information sources is not high: “The social media sites with the highest percentage of distrust among all adults are Facebook (59%), Twitter (48%) and Instagram (42%), followed by YouTube (36%).”
Upcoming in this Series
In the next Part, we will continue our 2020 social media update series with a review of some recent news stories of note.