What is Metadata?
As our online activity skyrockets, so does the trail of valuable information that we leave behind when browsing, clicking, and sharing information. This is particularly true of social media platforms, where high frequency, personal and professional interactions can generate a huge amount of associated incidental data.
This digital DNA of our online actions is what’s known as metadata. In simple terms, metadata is “a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.”
How Does Metadata Relate To eDiscovery?
In the world of digital evidence, metadata has a key role to play. It acts to give valuable information about a piece of content, beyond the element of the post, email, webpage or message that is visible to the naked eye.
It’s this capacity to give the examiner a deeper contextual understanding of the content being invested that makes metadata so valuable – it helps paint a complete picture, for example, shedding light on user-added tracked changes or notes.
In the world of digital evidence, there are 4 primary types:
- Client Metadata (who collected it)
i.e Browser, operating system, IP address, user
- Web Server/API Endpoint Metadata (where and when it was collected)
i.e URL, HTTP headers, type, date & time of request and response
- Account Metadata (who is the owner)
i.e Account owner, bio, description, location
- Message Metadata (what was said when)
i.e Author, message type, post date & time, versions, links (un-shortened), location, privacy settings, likes, comments, friends
An Example Of Social Media Metadata
The image below is an example of metadata captured in the back-end of social media. In this case, a tweet. What would only be visible online to you as a Twitter user would be:
Yet, in the back-end, exists a wealth of useful metadata that can be captured, like location, ID, expanded URL destinations and image sizes:
Social Media Metadata & Litigation
That metadata you generate as such can give tremendous insight into who you are, where you live, and where else you spend your time online. As a result, it can have numerous applications, from allowing marketers to retarget you with specifically tailored content, through to aiding in cases from insurance fraud to IP infringement, divorce and family matters.
Metadata can help to provide essential and contextual information about the "when and where" of actions related to a legal case, and because of this, frequently proves key to proving data authenticity and integrity in court.
Pagefreezer works to capture all of your website and social media metadata in evidentiary quality so it is usable in legal and compliance applications. It goes a step further to make sure all content is digitally signed (256-bit) and time-stamped satisfying legal requirements for digital evidence.
Why should you capture your Social Media Metadata?
Social media represents a valuable channel of communication and promotion to any modern day business. A social media presence is all but essential, but certain compliance measures will apply with regard to your industry’s recordkeeping requirements.
In order to be considered reliable evidence, admissible in a court of law, your social media records need to be recorded in a manner that gives all associated information, including elements such as time stamps and yes, metadata.
This serves to authenticate the data that’s being presented, placing it into the correct context, as well as highlighting any amendments, edits or deletions that may have occurred.
In the more highly regulated industries, such as financial services and healthcare, you’ll be actively required to keep a comprehensive archive of all social media output, and metadata is an important element of this recordkeeping. Your social media output, across all platforms, is considered business records, and as a result, you need to maintain a proper and identifiable record of everything published by your organization.
How Does PageFreezer Capture Metadata?
Metadata can be captured through the use of platforms and tools like Pagefreezer. The exact method of metadata capture will depend on the medium that is being archived.
How Does PageFreezer Capture Web Page Metadata?
Similar to the technology used by Google, Pagefreezer crawls the web to take snapshots of your webpages and collect posts from your social media accounts. The whole process is fully automated, ensuring total cover, with no margin for human error. The user is able to define the interval at which the crawler captures the site (and all associated metadata) – typically this is set to once a day, or once a week.
How Does PageFreezer Capture Social Media Metadata?
Social media data (including the data generated by enterprise collaboration platforms such as Workplace by Facebook) is captured in real time, through an API integration (for example, Facebook’s Graph API.) This method helps Pagefreezer to offer the industry’s most comprehensive capture of social media content, ensuring that all data is archived retroactively, right back to the origin of the account. This means that all interactions with posts, edits and deletions can be accessed and viewed at any time.
Litigation Ready, High Quality Data Archiving
Pagefreezer works to capture all of your website and social media metadata at evidentiary level quality, so it is usable in legal and compliance applications.
It goes a step further to make sure all content is digitally time stamped with an ANSI X9.95 compliant Time Stamp Authority, which in turn securely synchronizes with Stratum-1 Time Server certified atomic clocks. Finally, each record is signed with a SHA-256 digital signature.
Metadata is such an important element of your organization’s digital footprint, forming an increasingly essential part of modern day compliance and eDiscovery preparedness.
Ensure you’ve taken total control of your metadata by taking proactive action today and automating your archiving process going forward.
See how Pagefreezer automates the archiving of social media content, complete with metadata, by requesting a demo below.