Guidance on preserving social media

Apologies for cross posting – thanks to UK Data service for sharing

Guidance on preserving social media

Social media plays an increasingly important role as we embrace networked platforms and applications in our everyday lives. The UK Data Service is pleased to share the latest Technology Watch Report ‘Preserving Social Media’, published by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), an advocate and catalyst for digital preservation, ensuring resilient long-term access to digital content and services.

Data generated by social media users are a valuable resource for researchers and an important cultural record of life in the 21st century. As the programming and infrastructures of social media grow, researchers and data-collecting institutions need new techniques for capturing this web-based content.

This report, commissioned by the UK Data Service, provides guidance for researchers wanting to access social media for research purposes, the institutions who support them, and all organisations with a need to preserve social media data. It describes the landscape of archiving social media, including the attendant legal and ethical obstacles to long-term access.

‘The current ownership framework around social media data is very restrictive – mostly because of platform terms of service and developer agreements as well as the exclusive access of commercial data resellers,’ explains author Sara Day Thomson. ‘However, a number of strategies and case studies provide useful and legal avenues for ensuring long-term access to this valuable content.’

In fact, the terms and conditions that govern social media data restrict distribution, sharing and storage of data, amongst other things. For example, the Twitter Developer Agreement & Policy forbids developers to sell, rent, lease, sublicense Twitter data but also to store the data in cloud storage, which indirectly influences how researchers and collecting institutions deal with the data once they have acquired it.

The report lays out a number of proposed approaches to the preservation of social media data – a valuable resource currently at relatively high risk of disappearance if not actively addressed. For both small and large scale needs, this report applies methods to curate and archive user-generated content captured through platforms APIs. Many of these methods derive from the work of a handful of organisations at the forefront of this new field. Though the report addresses a number of significant challenges, it focuses on new developments and growing motivation across disciples to ensure that future generations have access to social media created today.

Neil Beagrie, editor of the Technology Watch Report series on behalf of the DPC, added ‘The preservation of social media has a wide appeal and this report is likely to be of interest not only to DPC members, but many organisations throughout the digital preservation community who face the challenge of keeping user generated content through social media accessible in the future’. Read the report here.

You can access UK data Service mailing via the JISCMAIL link


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