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Facebook Fact & Fiction: ​Capturing Advertisement Evidence on Facebook – Before it Disappears

In an age of many social media networks, Facebook is, by far, the biggest by almost every measure. With 2.41 billion active users, it is the world’s third most-visited website, surpassed only by Google and YouTube. It is used by 71% of American adults, and 74% of those users login daily[1]. Those users spend an average of 38 minutes per day on Facebook, during which time they’re taking in all sorts of information – updates from family and friends, shopping,advertisements, and news. In fact, statistics show that 52% of American adults get their news from Facebook, and it is estimated that 87.1% of U.S. marketers will use Facebook for marketing purposes in 2020.

Clearly, the statistics show that Facebook plays a powerful and important role in how Americans obtain their information every day. Which, of course, leads to the question – is that information always correct and honestly presented? The news we obtain – is it always truthful? The advertisements we see – are they always accurate? Recent news and confirmation from the highest level executives at Facebook itself would indicate that the answer to these questions is an unfortunate “no”.

In fact, recent news has proven that the inaccuracy – and even outright intentional falsification of advertisements and information on Facebook and other social media platforms has become quite a hot-button issue, as recent congressional hearings have made clear[2]. Those hearing shave raised the issue of groups with a particular political agenda paying for advertisements which were intentionally falsified – in fact going so far as to edit video footage and sound clips to portray particular candidates supporting issues and platforms that they do not actually support in reality.

Moreover, very recently, Representative Ocasio-Cortez used her allotted congressional hearing time to question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the company’s policies regarding false political advertisements, asking specifically whether she could run false ads asserting that certain Republicans had voted for the Green New Deal (when in fact that had not) as a means of targeting those candidates in the primaries. Zuckerberg ultimately answered that he wasn’t certain but that “I think probably” so.

Shortly thereafter - the very next day in fact - an advertisement asserting that Senator Lindsay Graham supported the Green New Deal, which included an altered video clip of the senator stating he believed in the proposal appeared on Facebook. This exchange, and the posting of the false advertising at issue in this particular followed quickly on the heels of issues raised about the Trump campaign’s recent release of Facebook advertisements also claimed to be false and misleading[3].

In the United Kingdom, similar issues are being raised, according to a recent CNN article indicating that Facebook’s controversial policy of allowing politicians to run false ads will extend to the United Kingdom, as that country prepares to vote in the historic upcoming December election[4]. Facebook in fact confirmed that it will not fact-check ads run by British political parties, or the thousands of candidates running for election to the House of Commons.

Certainly, the falsification of political advertisements is a disturbing issue in and of itself – but it also raises a broader question, and gives rise to a host of other issues relating to the content on social media platforms generally – namely, how trustworthy is the content that we see? While Facebook and other social media platforms may claim to fact-check non-political content for accuracy, the intentional falsification of political advertisements has made it clear how easy it can be to seamlessly create misleading content, and how often it can be done. It goes without saying that the reverse is also true – as easily as misleading content can be created, it can be deleted just as easily – and in an instant.

Beyond implications in the political world, the easy falsification and posting of online advertisements and other social media content should raise red flags for any attorney that may have a client who could potentially be damaged by such false content. It also raises important considerations as to what to do when and if such content is found online. If your client would have valid grounds for a slander or defamation suit on the basis of false content –advertisements or otherwise -- posted on Facebook or another social media platform, it only makes sense that you would want to be able to capture that evidence as soon as you find it.

One simple truth of social media is that it is nothing if not ever-changing. By its very nature,social media allows for us to share content – and then just as quickly, to delete it. It goes without saying that once the content that might be vital to proving your case is gone, it can be nearly impossible to prove that it ever existed in the first place. Attorneys and investigators who want to best serve their clients know, therefore, that it is vital to capture the necessary evidence immediately, or to risk losing the chance to capture it at all. WebPreserver exists to make those immediate captures possible.

Often, when you need to capture evidence, particularly ads or posts that may be there one moment and gone the next, you don’t have time to outsource your collection needs to a third party and wait for the evidence to be captured, organized, and returned. With WebPreserver,you can preserve web pages, advertisements, and other pertinent social media content with our single-click Plug-in feature. Browse. Click. Evidence. It’s that simple, to immediately preserve the content you need – no delays, no needless worries about deletions.

When you use WebPreserver, you can also be certain that you are capturing evidence which meets the authenticity thresholds for admissibility. After all, there isn’t much point in capturing evidence if you can’t ultimately use it. Those who use antiquated Screenshot methods that are difficult to authenticate or who outsource their collection risk either not collecting it in the first place, or not having it admitted after it’s collected.

When you use WebPreserver, your captures will include Metadata and HTML source code, as well as a SHA256 Digital signature and timestamp on all preservation. The end result is sound, easily authenticated, reliable evidence that complies with the E-Sign Act, the Federal Rules of Evidence, state evidentiary rules, and other pertinent regulations. With WebPreserver, you can collect the evidence you need, at the moment you need it. Call us today.

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