Going Viral: How Social Media Plays a Role in eDiscovery

Social media is increasingly taking over our lives. People use it to connect with friends, influencers, and celebrities across the world. In contrast, companies use it to build a rapport with their customers, shape their image, market products and services, and receive customer feedback. As more of our lives continue to be spent online, more evidence for civil and criminal litigation cases can be found on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If your organization is facing an upcoming court case, you may be able to collect valuable evidence from social media. Keep reading to find out how this data could support your claims and how to get it.

Can You Use Social Media as Evidence in Court?

Social media data collection occurs during the eDiscovery process before legal teams go to court. eDiscovery describes the process of collecting electronically stored information (ESI). Once this evidence — which can include pictures, videos, sound recordings, text messages, call logs, documents, graphs, and more — is collected, it is shared between the legal teams. Data found on social media can be gathered as evidence as it pertains to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), which state the materials must be relevant to the case to be discovered.

While social media content can be used as evidence in court, getting social media discovery requests approved by the opposing party can sometimes be challenging. Your legal team could file a motion asking the court to force compliance, but the court will only accept the motion when it’s clear the data is relevant to the case.

Key Evidence You Could Glean From Social Media Information

Social media platforms can hold a wealth of crucial information to your case. An eDiscovery provider could help you gather the following evidence:

  • Live posts
  • Messages
  • Chat logs
  • Log-on and posting times
  • List of friends
  • Photographs with GPS data
  • Files with metadata, including unique identifiers, item types, parent items, author or poster, recipients, comments, and more
  • IP addresses
  • And more!

In some cases, an eDiscovery expert could help you gain access to deleted materials through data recovery.

How to Collect Social Media Data

There are several ways to acquire social media information concerning your upcoming litigation. However, not every method is created equal. Here’s how you can extract data from social media platforms and each method’s pros and cons:

Forensic Collection of Social Media Data

Simply printing or taking screenshots of social media pages is not a forensically defensible method of data preservation. While this method seems straightforward, it may not allow you to gather all key evidence. After all, the information you’re after may be hidden behind privacy settings. There is often no way to verify that screenshots are accurate or complete representations of a purported source, and they can often be easily manipulated. A forensic examiner can use specialized tools to forensically preserve social media data, allowing it to be admissible in court.

Requesting Information From the Social Media Platform

Another way to get social media evidence is to request an aggregated copy of materials from the platform in question. For example, Facebook and Twitter provide comprehensive lists of account activity under “Download Your Information” and “Twitter Archive,” respectively. While this is a quick and affordable way to gather information, it can only be done by the account holder or with their permission. It can also be challenging to sort through these materials.

Partnering With a Digital Forensics Company

The best way to gather key evidence in an investigation is to hire a digital forensics expert. They have the expertise and tools necessary to collect pertinent information and help your legal team make a strong case in your favor. Your eDiscovery specialist will be able to capture files with their metadata and linked content intact. They will also be able to efficiently sort, filter, and search through the materials to get the evidence you need in a timely manner.

Our Experts Can Help With Your Social Media Discovery

The data found on social media platforms could potentially make or break your case. For this reason, it’s essential to partner with a professional eDiscovery firm when collecting evidence. The elite team at Cornerstone Discovery will ensure materials are collected, managed, and preserved correctly so that your legal team doesn’t have to worry about spoliation or interruptions to the chain of custody for digital evidence.

If you believe there’s critical evidence for your case on social media, contact Cornerstone Discovery for assistance today.

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