As it begins to dawn on people that social media is discoverable for litigation, it’s tempting to think that tweets, posts, and content can simply be downloaded from the provider. For example, The New York Times recently reported that Twitter is working on a way to retrieve old, expired tweets, and Facebook already has mechanisms for retrieving and downloading old posts. However, lawyers should not think they can rely on this approach for the demands of litigation.
Let’s start with the problems with Facebook’s export tool. The bottom line is that it is simply a snapshot of a Facebook page at a given point in time, and not a complete, forensically sound piece of evidence. If a user downloads a copy of content from Facebook after they receive a discovery request or regulatory inquiry, it may not contain all of the information associated with a post, like who shared a post. In addition, once a post is deleted, it’s deleted forever and likely unrecoverable. And Facebook’s functionality is limited to the account owner, so users cannot retrieve any public profile’s or fan page’s archive.
The Real Time Advantage
Nextpoint’s Cloud Preservation takes advantage of an authentication and authorization technology provided for third party applications by Facebook, commonly called OAuth. OAuth is the de facto standard used by Internet applications like Google and Twitter to share content. Cloud Preservation uses Facebook’s Graph API (which uses OAuth for authorization) to crawl private Facebook profiles capturing entire posts, all associated and linked content, and everything a lawyer would need for litigation or regulatory request.
Not only does Cloud Preservation capture Twitter content in real-time, but users can also crawl Facebook profiles anonymously, crawl other Facebook users’ profiles, and crawl age and country Facebook restricted pages. That means you are capturing content before it can be deleted or disappear into the cloud. While it may be possible to get social media content from a few service providers, it’s simply not credible to think it’s a sensible solution for true litigation preparedness.