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Social Media eDiscovery tools help companies remain compliant and reduce liability

Sean Stapleton

Social media is an essential part of doing business in the modern world, and as such, it is also a valuable source of corporate information.

Social Media eDiscovery tools are software programs that collect and store information from social media so that companies can comply with regulations and minimize liability in the event of legal action. In addition to gathering and storing social media data, these tools allow users to search captured data for specific bits of information, export data, and generate reports. For companies in financial services, healthcare or other sensitive industries, these tools are mostly used for compliance and liability. Law firms also use social media eDiscovery tools in the course of legal proceedings.

Problems can arise when social media channels deliberately or inadvertently leak sensitive information or intellectual property. There have also been instances of social media posts being used in internal investigations.

Despite the fact that noncompliance or legal action related to social media posts can have serious consequences for a company, there seems to be a significant lack of awareness around these issues. Even those in the legal field may be unfamiliar with how laws pertain to official social media posts.

Remaining Compliant and Reducing Liability

In legal proceedings, discovery is the pretrial phase in which attorneys look to uncover evidence that supports their case. Electronic discovery, or eDiscovery, refers to the inspection of data and other digital records. This can include social media posts, official emails, and archived pages from a company's website.

Social media is a relatively new phenomenon compared to email and the World Wide Web. But in a short time, it has become a vital part of business operations. Companies use platforms like Instagram and Facebook to increase brand awareness, issue statements, and connect with customers. A company’s social media presence is a powerful tool, and with this power comes responsibility.

In some industries, companies are bound by regulations to store all social media activity for a set period of time. These companies must be able to produce quick access to records for regulators. According to law, social media activity must be stored in a way that it cannot be deleted or altered.

Regardless of industry, companies should be prepared to produce documents in the event of legal action. Complying with these requests means being able to produce all of the vital metadata associated with posts and messages.

There are a number of situations in which companies may need to produce social media records. For instance, a few wrong clicks from an employee could lead to the public posting of confidential information or intellectual property. Or a marketing employee responsible for the company’s Twitter profile could post content deemed to be libelous.

Social media eDiscovery tools may seem reactive by nature. However, they can also be used to monitor a company's social media activity and identify troubling use by employees. Whether it is inadvertent or malicious in nature, improper use from employees can be quickly addressed through the use of social media eDiscovery tools.

The Challenges of Remaining Compliant

The nature of social media means that posts can easily be written anonymously. Posts are also not stored on the computer or servers of the author or the company. Furthermore, social media platforms and their advertisers have their own interests and agendas.

When it comes to social media eDiscovery, the most vital information is the metadata associated with individual posts. This metadata can reveal the date a post was authored and where it was authored from. These details can be crucial to proving or disproving a legal case.

Any company looking to remain compliant and minimize liability when it comes to social media should be able to meet the complex challenges of doing so. This can be difficult for a company to achieve on its own.

Preparing for a Potential eDiscovery Situation

Well-developed policies that are followed by employees significantly protect a company against claims of negligence or illegal behavior.

Every company needs to ensure that its document retention policies are up-to-date and being followed. The retention of social media posts is more complicated than simply storing emails and paper documents. Companies may need to modify practices to accommodate for the complexities related to storing social media data. It is also important for a company to comply with specific standards related to industry and location.

Due to the complex nature of this undertaking, many organizations partner with a third party for the collection and storage of social media information. A corporate legal team should work with the third party vendor to develop a clear policy that describes data ownership, access and other details.

How MirrorWeb Can Help

Through our solutions and services, we can help your company remain compliant and out of legal trouble. Please contact us today to find out how we can be of assistance.

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