Fringe Social Media: Are you digging deep enough?

Kerri NeugebauerBlogLeave a Comment

Social media plays a massive role in our everyday lives. The most commonly discussed platforms are the ones that are most widely-used, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc. However, these platforms have been undergoing major changes recently. In an effort to reduce the spread of misinformation and increase users’ privacy, big tech companies have introduced detailed plans to monitor content and eliminate accounts that violate their terms of agreement. 

Unfortunately, despite these improvements, there have been consequences associated with the limitations posed on acceptable content. Internet users who once took to Facebook and Twitter to spread hate speech or racist commentary have now channeled this activity elsewhere on  fringe social platforms where misinformation and disinformation campaigns originate and make their way mainstream where they go viral. Social media such as Discord, a chat service for video gamers, and message boards such as 4chan is where free commentary is allowed regardless of perpetuation of hate, violence or discriminatory messages.

How This Affects Litigation

From a legal standpoint, this presents a growing challenge in the web discovery process, since these corners of the web are not frequented by the everyday social media user. When conducting research on a subject involved in a case, it may prove to be extremely difficult for non-experts to uncover a subject’s activity on such sites.

 

SMI Aware Accuracy & Solution

In order to conduct thorough investigations on subjects, we use proprietary technology that scours over 160 social media sites as well as internet search engines, public records, and the deep web. From this information, our trained team of expert in-house analysts will identify and confirm results that match the subject based on the information provided in the scope of work.

If an SMI Aware analyst has reason to suspect that the subject in question may be active on fringe social media sites, the analyst will conduct a keyword search and then isolate those posts to be their own result if it is scope-related, tag it, and highlight it in the Findings/Analysis section of the Deep Report. Even if this information was not specifically requested on the scope of work, SMI Aware analysts highlight general negative information when it is found.

As with any social media platform, there is always the chance that posted content can be deleted. However, this is even more of a concern with fringe social media sites, as they can be temporarily shut down or permanently disabled on short notice. A recent example of this occurred when Gab, a site known for its lack of restrictions on acceptable content, was shut down by its website domain provider and banned from Google apps. This highlights the importance of preservation during the e-discovery process. At SMI Aware, our analysts are able to timestamp and preserve metadata in secure servers, which can then be used as admissible evidence in court. 

While it is unfortunate that there is such an immense amount of online content that contains ill-intended and inflammatory messages, it is even more unfortunate when this activity needs to be preserved as evidence for a case, but instead goes by unnoticed. By taking advantage of SMI Aware services, we guarantee you the peace of mind knowing that our team of trained experts have looked into every possible outlet to gather evidence that can help win your case. 

 

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