For better or for worse, social media has deeply embedded itself into our day-to-day lives. Beyond being merely a distraction or a way to keep in contact with friends and family, social media has evolved into a legitimate business and marketing tool for companies in nearly all industries. Given its widespread presence in both our business and personal lives, it should come as no surprise that social media has become a hot issue in litigation and eDiscovery. Most parties to today’s legal matters produce social media content that could be a source of potentially relevant information for litigation.
In theory, social media should be treated like any other files when it comes to discovery. In reality, though, requesting and producing social media presents a host of unique challenges. Social media information exists in a variety of forms and file types, can be generated by a large number of users, and can add up to an prohibitively large amount of information. Nonetheless, courts around the country have made it clear that social media is indeed discoverable, regardless of the privacy settings a user may have in place. Therefore, it’s important for both sides of a litigation to familiarize themselves very early on with what social media information exists that may have a bearing on the case at hand.
While the law surrounding discovery of social media is continuing to evolve, the courts so far have provided some useful guidance that lawyers should heed going forward. Social media is governed by the same standards of discoverability as all other files – discovery requests must be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of information bearing on the claims in the case.
For that reason, parties requesting the discovery of social media information should be careful to avoid blanket requests, and instead craft requests that are tailored to obtaining information that is connected to relevant case issues, or risk having their requests rejected as overly broad. Producing parties, in turn, should treat social media discovery requests like any other requests, preparing thorough productions that include redactions, withholdings, and logs. The failure to do so can result in sanctions.
The MCS Group, a Women’s Certified Business, is a recognized leader in all aspects of eDiscovery and EDRM, including cutting-edge legal issues surrounding the discovery of social media information. Contact us today to learn how MCS can help you navigate the waters of social media discovery and experience excellence in all aspects of eDiscovery.