Law Firms Are Demanding Native, Post-Level Collection of Social Media Evidence to Support Standard Review and Analytics Workflows

By John Patzakis
June 13, 2023

Social Media Evidence CollectionTwo months ago, X1 launched version 7 of our X1 Social Discovery social media and web collections solution. This major upgrade features a new cutting-edge Instagram connector, along with our revamped Facebook support, where all our users now have native post-level collection and parsing to ensure accuracy, key metadata collection, court authentication, and evidentiary completeness of the collected data. As stated by X1 CEO Larry Gill: “Nothing short of those capabilities is acceptable and that is why I can confidently say that X1 Social Discovery is the only solution in the industry capable of delivering all those requirements.”

Version 7 has been a huge success, with record sales seen since its release. In fact, in speaking recently with several attorneys at top law firms, it’s very clear both how important such native post-level collection is in order to support standard attorney review and data analytics workflows, and that there is a disconnect with some practitioners who are utilizing alternative web plug-in based screen shot generation tools that do not support these now basic but essential requirements.

It is very important to understand the unique ability of X1 Social Discovery to perform post-level native collection of each social media post. This means that the social media post is collected in its native format and parsed so that it has its own associated metadata, photos, indexed text and in-line comments. This allows for the individual Facebook or Instagram posts, Tweets, etc. to be searched, filtered, tagged, and exported individually at the post-level with all associated metadata and comments inline. The ability with X1 to tag, sort, authenticate (with individually associated hash values), and upload individual posts by up to thousands at a time without manual processing into an attorney review platform is essential for an efficient and scalable workflow. And X1 is the only solution that can deliver this critical functionality.

In contrast, the web plug-in tools generate flat file image PDFs as its final output. So, if there are 30 posts that are in a feed, a single monolithic image PDF will be generated as the collection output. These bulk screenshots are of very limited value as they are not collected in native format, retain no post-level metadata, and are not searchable (absent a secondary and inferior OCR process). This output is practically useless for a review platform (as the entire output is one object).

Additionally, as we all know, AI-based analytics is a game-changing capability that is now a standard feature of the leading eDiscovery review platforms. However, ESI must be properly collected in order to support such AI. Semantic AI engines ingest and analyze the extracted text and metadata of individual emails, electronic documents, social media posts and web pages. Only X1 Social Discovery collects full text & post-level metadata and performs and maintains the collection at the individual object-level, all of which is necessary to support upstream AI analysis. Using the web plug-in tools is a decision to not use AI on your case for social media and website evidence.

Another key differentiator is that X1 Social Discovery is a robust software application that can be installed on a computer, including virtual cloud servers. This enables X1 to take advantage of the full CPU and RAM resources available to address heavy workloads as needed with multi-threading capabilities. As a result, X1 can run multiple collections at the same time, auto-expand and auto-scroll across thousands of posts, and collect posts with thousands of comments. For instance, a web crawl collection, a Facebook collection, and a YouTube collection can be run at the same time. Data can be reviewed and analyzed immediately as it populates.

Further, social media collections often involve thousands of posts with hundreds of associated comments and multiple images. This requires adequate resources to perform auto-expanding and auto-scrolling of pages, comments, and images. X1’s architecture provides for such a scalable workflow.

In contrast, the web plug-in tools are web browser plug-ins that face very limiting performance ceilings and functionality constraints inherent to any such plug-in. Many users report limitations beyond capturing a few dozen posts at a time at best, with an inability to capture all comments when they number in the hundreds or numerous clustered images in thumbnail format. For this reason and many others, the web plug-in tools are generally considered a low market tool for one-off small collections.

Additionally, the legal evidentiary defensibility provided by X1 Social Discovery is in a class by itself. This is because X1 captures over a dozen unique item-level metadata fields, including the URL of the individual post (not bulk feed), User ID, Post ID, date stamps and other key metadata. Importantly, each post, which is an individual object, has its own hash value generated at the time of collection. So, when thousands of individual posts, YouTube videos, and web pages are collected into a case, and there is then a need to provide a subset of those items into a review platform or produced in discovery, the hash value and post-level metadata for each item remains intact.

The web plug-in tools only record general URLs of the bulk collection, a hash of the entire “all or nothing” bulk PDF export containing up to dozens of individual posts, with no individual hash values or metadata fields specific to any of those posts. There is an important distinction here between object-level metadata (i.e. each post) and metadata associated with the bulk feed image. If the web plug-in tools capture 50 posts in a single image feed, and the client may only want 4 of them moved into a review platform for further review, there is no way to do that except for taking secondary Snagit-type screenshots, rendering the chain of custody broken and the hash value inapplicable.

Finally, the court in Edwards v. Junior State of America Foundation, No. 4:19-CV-140-SDJ, (US Dist. CT, E.D. TX 2021), specifically ruled that only HTML or JSON social media collections are defined as “native file collection.” Flat PDFs are not.

To see this critical and unique functionality in X1 Social Discovery v7, please watch our product tour on-demand. Alternatively, we would welcome the opportunity to brief you and your colleagues directly. Please contact us to speak with a member of the X1 Team.