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The Challenges of Social Media Recordkeeping

Late in 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged two robo-advisers with false disclosures. It wasn’t just the first time that the SEC went after these modern software-driven investment operations, it was yet another example of how important compliant social media use and recordkeeping is.

The SEC argued that one company improperly retweeted client testimonials, while the other posted misleading information on social media and “failed to maintain required documentation”.

The Challenges of Social Media Recordkeeping

Putting aside the issue of improper use of social media for the moment, merely keeping accurate records can be tricky. In fact, many organizations are not compliant and would face potential fines if suddenly audited or asked to provide detailed social media records.  

Like other electronic records and correspondence, social media content is subject to recordkeeping regulations laid out by governing bodies like the SEC and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). But unlike email, which has been around for a long time, social media as a marketing tool is still relatively new, and many organizations are unsure what acceptable recordkeeping looks like.

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Moreover, capturing and storing social media data isn’t as easy as simply archiving emails. Social media pages and accounts see constant activity with loads of posts, likes, unlikes, shares, and comments (that sometimes need to be hidden or deleted because of inappropriate language). Below are some of the main challenges of social media recordkeeping.

Mix of Content 

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter don’t consist of one simple stream of content—they have timelines, pages, direct messages, images, videos, comments, etc. This makes social media content particularly prone to data loss. It’s all too easy for a post to be edited or a comment deleted before an accurate record is created. And what would happen if content was ever to be deleted from the original platform? Would any record remain?   

Real-Time Activity

When it comes to electronic records management, social media is unique in the speed at which things happen. Thousands of comments, likes, and shares can take place in an hour, and with each new interaction, a new record is needed. In other words, a single post with lots of engagement can result in the creation of thousands of records in a very short space of time. This neverending real-time activity poses a tremendous challenge, since a record can be outdated almost the moment that it’s created.

Evolving Platforms

Since a manual process like screenshotting is labor-intensive, susceptible to data loss, and unlikely to result in records that’ll stand up in court, many organizations resort to some form of recordkeeping that collects social media data automatically. While this is a good approach, it’s worth keeping in mind that social media platforms are always evolving, so whatever solution an organization opts for, it needs to be able to adapt to platform changes. Otherwise, every platform change will result in lengthy downtimes and record gaps.

Integration Requirements 

In order to ensure that social media content is always collected in real-time, archives are of evidentiary quality, and any changes to a platform do not impact the ability to archive data, it's necessary to leverage social media platforms' APIs. By integrating their own applications with the APIs of these platforms, software companies ensure that all necessary information is gathered. Gaining access to these APIs and building the necessary integrations isn't always easy, but it's undoubtedly the best way to ensure accurate records.  

Solving the Challenge with PageFreezer

As challenging as the points above can make social media recordkeeping sound, PageFreezer is able to overcome them all and provide customers with complete, evidentiary-quality records.

  • PageFreezer doesn’t just create screenshots of content, but instead generates detailed archives that are easy to search. Content can also be viewed in its original context, replayed as if it was live, and easily exported into a case file for eDiscovery purposes.   
  • All content and activity are recorded, including edited posts, deleted comments, and even metadata.   
  • To ensure that there are no gaps in records, PageFreezer pioneered real-time archiving of social media platforms. So even if a post sees incredible engagement, you’ll have a detailed up-to-the-minute record of every activity.
  • Instead of some custom solution or workaround, PageFreezer leverages social media APIs to collect data. This not only allows for real-time archiving, but it also means that a platform change won’t result in data loss. API integration even lets social media pages and accounts be archived retroactively!
  • A PageFreezer record has a timestamp and a digital signature to prove that it wasn't tampered with. Because of this, it’s of evidentiary quality and can be used for litigation purposes.   

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