Social media radically alters what the traditional eDiscovery connotation is of metadata. It in fact, renders it useless, if it wasn’t already.
Some background first, the simple definition that metadata is ‘data about data’ is a tautological concept. It’s bereft of meaning. Like ‘metaphysical,’ it defines what it is NOT, not what it IS. Metaphysical essentially means not real. Metadata essentially means not data.
In practice, what metadata has come to mean are essentially descriptions of fields and functionality included in almost exclusively certain Microsoft products. Chaos but no hilarity result from discussions about formulas, hidden fields, created dates, last opened dates.
So when people enjoin in the argument of whether ‘track changes’ in MS Word constitutes ‘metadata,’ the ensuing discussion is nonsensical.
The only question to ask now is how do we get ALL of the data and make decisions then on what to extract from that data. In social media, if you decide to only archive the ‘tweet’ piece of data, and eliminate the ‘metadata’ – let’s say author and the time — you’ve got nothing. Not capturing the time is incomplete. Not capturing the link in a tweet makes it incomplete.
In essence, there is no metadata. There is no data about data. It’s all data. And there’s no reason to believe it doesn’t all need to be saved in compliance and litigation contexts. Is there?