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6. Consider setup or installation requirements.
Once an organization understands the need for a social media archiving policy, it needs to start considering technical issues. Will it require and benefit from an applications service provider (ASP), software-as-a-service (SaaS), or a behind-the-firewall network installation? What provider can offer the needed solution?
Many archiving products/services require a system that must be installed onto networks, and data is then saved to on-premise servers – at the provider’s or the client’s location. This approach can be costly (buying and maintaining servers for ever-expanding data stores) and may be vulnerable to breaches and outages.
With today’s evolving technology, other options exist, such as ASP or cloud-based SaaS solutions. An ASP model simply means that a software instance is hosted off-site and accessed remotely, as with many website content management systems.
Cloud- based solutions, theoretically, should be better situated to scale as data increases. And with these types of solutions, overhead costs are often much lower than that of on-premise servers, and protection against outages are mitigated. Very large organizations can save every one of their employees’ Tweets without much worry about reaching the end of their available stores.
7. Robust search capabilities of the preservation are necessary.
Any archival system deployed needs to include highly sophisticated search capabilities that will keep pace with the exploding use of social media and give the organization command over the preserved data. Though organizations may have few social media feeds now, they may have many more in the near future. For example, Hyatt Hotels now has a unique Twitter account for each of its 451 properties worldwide.
Advanced search tools need to be a minimum ante for any archival service or product to be a viable and worthwhile solution. The key to social media preservation is not only to have it preserved, but to have it easily accessible, indexed, and search-enabled. An organization will need profound command of its data for it to be constructive and discovery ready.
8. Review and production from the preservation is critical.
An organization has to assume that further down the road it will need to be able to manage its archive and easily produce data from it. Huge amounts of social media data will not be useful if it can’t be searched or data can’t be produced from it in a reasonably timely manner and on a budget. At the outset of the process, an organization should be developing the workflows that allow the data to be copied and made available for relevance review in e-discovery platforms. Of course, being able to search and review the data isn’t quite enough. An organization needs to be able to do so without altering the original state of the data in any way, or it could face legal sanctions.
It also needs to consider how to restrict access to the preserved data. If specific data can’t be put in a silo, anyone with access to the archive will be able to view every piece of information in the database. This can compromise the confidentiality, privilege, and privacy of the information. The right workflows will limit access of potentially relevant information to those who have the proper clearance.
9. Aim for capturing data in real time.
For most social media outlets, it will not be sufficient to preserve on a monthly basis. Real-time capture and preservation is the standard to ensure the most forensically sound and complete archive. Sending a 140-character Tweet can take mere seconds, and then it is out in the universe, even if later deleted or lost by Twitter. A real-time capture solution provides the best chance of archiving everything. An organization needs to consider how often it will “crawl” (deploy web spiders to extract data) for its archiving purposes. At this point, Twitter makes it relatively simple to capture feeds in real time, while LinkedIn and Facebook, because of their inconsistent presentation of data, are a bit more challenging.
10. Think about how content for legal holds will be locked or excluded from normal RIM schedules.
Like other types of data storage, social media may be subject to legal holds, or an organization may otherwise need to deviate from the usual retention schedule. It will need to develop a strategy for executing legal holds, and it will also need to have the technology to execute this. Much like organizations must be able to silo specific data, as mentioned before, they also need to be able to sort out the data that should be deleted according to regular schedules and keep the data that may be potentially responsive in case of a lawsuit.
The Revolution WILL Be Televised … on YouTube
These are the beginning stages of the social media revolution. Denying this or delaying a preservation strategy will only compound the difficulty to execute. Despite the massive amounts of data that exist today, the quantity is still manageable. Putting it off will only make the mountain of data that much higher when it must finally be climbed.
For records management professionals who survived the sea change that e-discovery brought, the situation with social media archiving should feel familiar. When organizations need to create policies on the fly, it’s extremely difficult to catch up. Take action now to be sufficiently prepared.