Given the ever-changing webscape of social media, itʻs imperative that firms today keep up with changes to the different social media platforms and how to best utilize available information to their advantage. The most well-known social media platform today, Facebook has experienced arguably the greatest evolution since its inception in 2004.
Let’s take a look back at where Facebook has come from, then discuss where it is today and how these changes may have implications that impact the legal market and e-discovery process.
How Facebook Started
The story of Facebook’s early days is well-known among many, thanks to the high profile of Mark Zuckerberg, one of Facebook’s founders, and his achievements as a very young entrepreneur. The movie The Social Network also shed some light on how The Facebook (as it was called in the early days) came to be.
In the beginning, every user on Facebook was a college student. A user had to have an email from a college or university to be able to sign up for the service. There weren’t any businesses on Facebook and interaction was low.
However, once Facebook opened their platform up to more users, it just continued to grow exponentially and change.
Now, daily interactions made on Facebook are far removed from the social network’s activities of the early 2000’s. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that more young adults actively decided to spend less time on Facebook and/or adjusted their privacy settings in the past year.
This comes after Facebook’s data privacy scandal and the general unhappiness with the layout and algorithm of Facebook’s newsfeed. With a plethora of content to consume, users went from relishing this content distribution to being overwhelmed by it. In that same Pew survey, most young adults said they had deleted the app from their mobile phone. Many of these users have switched to other social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, where content is highly curated and personalized among connections. A new report by Piper Jaffray asked over 8,600 teens across 48 states to rank their social media platform preferences, and 46% of respondents said Snapchat, 32% said Instagram, and only a mere 5% said that Facebook was their favorite.
Additionally, the increase in users of an older generation joining Facebook has also influenced its declining popularity among younger demographics. Facebook was once generally seen as a space to openly discuss personal thoughts and photos without older loved ones getting involved. Now, the older generations are some of the most active users on Facebook. In fact, as of January 2018, 65% of U.S. adults ages 50-64 and 41% ages 65+ are currently active Facebook users.
So, why does this matter in a legal context?
Here at SMI Aware, we often hear attorneys and other legal professionals claim that social media discovery reports are either not relevant to their cases at all, or are only pertinent to cases involving younger subjects. Nevertheless, the reality is that social media is an inevitable part of our everyday lives, and it can provide key insights that may solve a case when least expected.
There is ample opportunity to gather information from social media platforms that can aid in your investigation, and getting into the habit of utilizing social media reports for every case will help create to a more thorough discovery process. You never know what information is just waiting to be discovered and preserved to help you achieve more wins in court!