An Interview Regarding Social Media Monitoring and eDiscovery

Recently, a reporter asked me the following questions:

1.  Currently, social media monitoring/archiving/discovery/capture software such as X1 Social Discovery (http://www.x1.com/products/x1_social_discovery/) and SocialWare (http://www.socialware.com/) appears to be focused on only a few, major social networks:  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Realistically, is coverage of these three networks alone really enough — given that there are literally hundreds of thousands of discussions forums where an employee might make a post?

 

It depends.  If the company monitoring the social media activity is a federally regulated entity (such as a financial institution), where any posting containing non-public or proprietary information could irreparably effect a patent or its stock price, only monitoring the “Big Three” would not be enough.  However, generally speaking, due to the number of users, followers, and friends, monitoring the “Big Three” is sufficient because most people want a lot of people to see what they post and the majority of people do not even know that others exist (mostly only tech savvy ones know).

 
2.  If a law firm asked you which software products/services you believe they should look at as a solution for social media monitoring/archiving/discovery/capture, which products/services would you point them to — and why?

X1 Discovery appears to be the market leader in this space.  It is very robust and the database archiving and retrieval of user data is very powerful.  

 

Actiance has a product that I am familiar with that can be useful, especially in the financial services/federally regulated industries because it can monitor social media posts of employees before they actually post the information to the social media site itself.  The downside is that employees have to link their social media accounts via an API which allows access to their private accounts in order for this to be effective.

 

3.  Realistically, do you envision a day when a software product will truly be able to monitor every post on every conceivable social network, discussion board, video upload site, etc.?  If not, will this be troublesome when it comes to eDiscovery?  Why/Why not?

No, I do not think that it is realistic that one software product or solution can monitor every post on every site for several reasons.  First of all, these sites are developed by various programmers in different languages, etc. It is very difficult to gain the appropriate access to the code for every site out there and have another programmer develop the appropriate code to monitor it.  Secondly, it would be extremely time consuming for one company to try to locate/identify “all” the sites in the first place.  Lastly, it would be incredibly expensive to try to accomplish same.

 

4.  Looking ahead, what do you believe will constitute the ultimate software suite for social media monitoring/archiving/discovery/capture?  What will it be able to do?  What will it still be missing?  How close are we to getting to that software, and which companies, if any, do you believe may get us there?

 

Great questions.  The dilemma with the next generation of social media monitoring is overcome the inherent privacy issues that exist with monitoring “closed” or “private” pages.  None of the existing software suites can collect data from such sites without having permission from the users (which is highly unlikely if there is a hint of litigiousness in the inquiry).  Logically, people should be smart enough to have their accounts privately protected if they are engaging in inappropriate behavior, nevertheless, you will be surprised to see what people will publicly post.  This is probably the biggest problem and the only way that we will overcome it is determining whether or not social media participation is a public or private endeavor.
5.  Do you have any other insights you’d like to share regarding social media monitoring/archiving/discovery/capture?

 

One thing that I wanted to add is that many law firms use the Way Back Machine http://archive.org that can point to any webpage on the internet to see what it looked like at any given period of time (going back to about 10 years).  This is useful to show what items/content has been deleted, etc. and allows an attorney to question the company or user why it is missing.  

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