Facebook most important social media in e-discovery: Study

Facebook has been identified by respondents in a new study as the most important social media app for potential e-discovery in 2011, bypassing even the more business-oriented sites, such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

“That highlights the challenges in the enterprise,” said Hilary McQuaide, marketing and communication manager with Mountain View, Calif.-based ClearWell Systems Inc. /

Seventy-nine per cent of respondents said Facebook would feature most prominently, while LinkedIn came in at 55 per cent and Twitter at 85 per cent (respondents were free to choose more than one social media app for this question.)


The study, by ClearWell Systems and analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., investigated the degree to which certain data sources are being included in organizations’ e-discovery strategies.

But only 26 per cent of respondents said social media apps were even part of their e-discovery plans in 2010. However, they do expect that to climb to 58 per cent in 2011.

Similarly, only 30 per cent of respondents reported cloud-based apps were part of their company’s e-discovery plans in 2010, but that is expected to double in 2011.

“While cloud computing adoption is growing, it’s still somewhat new to a number of different industries. They’re still at the front end of the learning curve,” said McQuaide.

In the past, much time and money was spent consolidating data into information management systems but little thought as to how to extract data in the event of litigation or government inquiry, said Sean Wilcox, senior director of marketing with ClearWell Systems.

“They really forgot to think about what happens when you need to take information out,” said Wilcox. “In those types of situations, you are only going to get a few days to get the relevant information back to the government.”

One reason that e-discovery plans don’t factor in cloud and social media apps is because they are a bit trickier to police, given the sites can so easily “broadcast” data out to a large audience, said Katey Wood, information management analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group.

While organizations in the financial services field are required to, and do, monitor social media, other businesses may not realize they have to, said Wood.

Social media and cloud apps are a great way to outsource infrastructure and responsibility, but “then you realize the data may not be in your custody and control anymore but you’re still responsible for it,” said Wood.

Compounding the issue, said Wood, is that traditional forensics tools deal with only on-premise systems. But, with the cloud, servers are located elsewhere. “They may not be familiar with the better options out on the market,” said Wood. “And in some ways there aren’t the same options for the cloud as there are for regular e-discovery of your desktop.”

Wilcox’s advice is to identify procedures and service-level agreements with cloud provders regarding extracting data for e-disccovery.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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