eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Trends: Facebook’s Self-Collection Mechanism

One of the most enlightening revelations resulting from my interview with Craig Ball at LegalTech (published last Friday) was regarding a feature that he mentioned which Facebook added late last year that allows any user to download their information.  I thought it was such a significant bit of information that a post dedicated to the feature (in addition to the coverage in the interview) was warranted.

This feature is available via the Account Settings menu and enables users to collect their wall posts, friends lists, photos, videos, messaging, and any other personal content, save it into a Zip file and download the Zip file.  Craig also wrote about the feature in Law Technology News last month – that article is located here.

When you initiate the download, especially if you’re an active Facebook user, it may take Facebook a while to gather all information (several minutes or more, mine took about an hour).  Eventually, you’ll get an email to let you know that your information is packaged and ready for download.  Once you verify your identify by providing your password and click “Download Now”, you’ll get a Zip file containing a snapshot of your Facebook environment in a collection of HTML files with your Wall, Profile and other pages and copies of any content files (e.g., photos, videos, etc.) that you had uploaded.

Think about the significance of this for a moment.  Now, 500 million users of the most popular social network on the planet (which includes not just individuals, but organizations as well) have a mechanism to “self-collect” their data for their own use and safekeeping.  Or, they can “self-collect” for use in litigation.  In his article, Craig likens Facebook’s download function to Staples’ famous easy button.  How can an attorney argue an overly burdensome collection when you simply have to click a button?

With a social network behemoth like Facebook now offering this feature, will other social network and cloud solution providers soon follow?  Let’s hope so.  As Craig notes in his article, “maybe the cloud isn’t the eDiscovery headache some think”.  Spread the word!

So, what do you think?  Have you been involved in a case that could have benefited from a cloud-based self-collection tool?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.