Social media profiles, photos, videos, posts, and comments can disappear with the click of the originator. Efforts to protect privacy allow social media users to make quick, permanent changes to their profiles. Recovering deleted posts for evidence is not always possible, but understanding social media policies and deactivation features may be helpful in your efforts to recover a subject’s social media.
Deactivation v. Deletion:
Owners of social media profiles are able to either deactivate or permanently delete their account or profile. Deactivation is when a profile owner chooses to remove his or her username and personal data for a period of time. Deletion is a permanent action wherein a profile owner can remove his or her username and associated profile data from a social media account. The information is then removed from the social media platform’s database and is non-recoverable. Permanent deletion can also be a consequence of profile deactivation after a period of inactivity, usually 30 days.
- Facebook: in addition to the above, users that select to deactivate their account can schedule a date for reactivation. Facebook also delays permanent deletion, so it is possible that a user can deactivate the deletion if he or she logs into their account during this time period. Profiles that are private are not accessible to unconnected users. And while SMI Aware cannot access this information, a court-ordered subpoena can require the user to change their settings and refrain from altering their profile. SMI Aware can also monitor a subject’s profile in case the profile is reactivated and information can be captured for preservation.
- Instagram: Because Instagram is owned by Meta, many of the account management and privacy policies are similar including the deactivation, permanent deletion, and delayed permanent deletion policies and practices.
- Twitter: Deactivation will not allow the user’s handle or public profile to be visible on Twitter. Twitter accounts that have been deactivated for 30 days are permanently deleted. However, deleting an account does not delete information from search engines like Google or Bing. And searches on Twitter can be adapted to look for the subject’s quotes, retweets, and tweets sent to the subject from another Twitter user.
- TikTok: Social media users on TikTok have similar rules about disabling or deleting accounts. Differences exist in the privacy settings depending on the country in which you live and post your content.
The Time for Workflow Integration is NOW
Social media companies have an arduous process for information recovery. By the time you receive a response with permission to access deleted information, the information you need could be long gone. The best way to avoid losing evidence is swift preservation. By discovering, collecting, and preserving content right away, evidence is saved before it can be deleted. Integrating SMI Aware as a part of your regular workflow can give you the best chance at finding and keeping evidentiary content for all of your subjects. SMI Aware specializes in ethically gathering and securing social media evidence for legal defense teams. The time to act is NOW. Contact SMI Aware today to start your investigations.