So, you may have heard the term “metadata” tossed around, but thought it was just jargon used by techie folks. When it comes to researching plaintiffs’ social media activity, metadata isn’t just jargon, but an important part of authenticating a Facebook post or other social media activity.
What is metadata? Metadata is simply data ABOUT data. The information provided about a given set of data can vary, but key items that come to play in when we are looking at social media as evidence are:
- Time posted
- Date posted
- Account posted to
- Information edited
- Information deleted
According to attorney Frances Crockett, “Metadata is now being considered under rule 901B4, distinctive characteristics of an electronic record that can be used to authenticate it.”
If you can capture metadata about a post, you can help demonstrate that it was indeed posted by the individual at issue at a specific date and time. Metadata has even been used to provide an alibi together with location data, which can from a post being geo-tagged or via a specific IP address pulled from a computer.
Step Ahead Social Research is able to capture metadata for postings to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and now Tumblr, and testify in court as an independent third party expert as to the validity of said data.
We highly recommend, however, capturing this data as early on in the process as possible. Using the metadata fields that indicate a post was edited or deleted, if originally captured prior to editing or deleting, you may also be able to prove spoliation with the help of social media.
Got question? Give us a shout at lmettler AT socialmediainvestigation.com.