New Technology Watch report: Preserving Social Media

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and Charles Beagrie Ltd, with the UK Data Service, release the latest in their series of Technology Watch Reports today.

Preserving Social Media  by Sara Day Thomson of the DPC, provides guidance for researchers wanting to access social media for research purposes, the institutions who support them, and all organisations with a need to preserve social media data.

The report describes the landscape of archiving social media, identifying the challenges associated with this task, and just some of the strategies which might be adopted in attempting to provide long-term access to such voluminous and unwieldy content.

This newest addition to the Technology Watch Series was commissioned by the UK Data Service with sponsorship from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of their Big Data Network Support initiative.

‘The current ownership framework around social media data is very restrictive-mostly because of platform terms of service and developer agreements as well as the exclusive access of commercial data resellers,’ explains author Sara Day Thomson. ‘However, a number of strategies and case studies provide useful and legal avenues for ensuring long-term access to this valuable content.’

The report lays out a number of approaches to the preservation of social media data-a valuable resource currently at relatively high risk of disappearance if not actively addressed. For both small and large scale needs, this report applies methods to curate and archive user-generated content captured through platforms APIs. Many of these methods derive from the work of a handful of organisations at the forefront of this new field. Though the report addresses a number of significant challenges, it focuses on new developments and growing motivation across disciples to ensure that future generations have access to social media created today.

The preservation of social media has a wide appeal and this report is likely to be of interest not only to DPC members, but many organisations throughout the digital preservation community who face the challenge of keeping user generated content through social media accessible in the future.

‘Preserving Social Media’ is the latest in the series of popular DPC Technology Watch Reports which support the Digital Preservation Coalition’s objectives and provide advice on how to manage high-value and vulnerable digital resources beyond the limits of technological obsolescence.

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