Endangered large

Free online utilities offered at no cost to end users, but with a business model based on gathering and reselling consumer insights.  This entry includes data produced and stored and accessed within the utilities.

Group: Social media

Trend: New Entry

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within twelve months

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to address losses in this group, possibly requiring the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


Google Docs, Google Sheets, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Prezi

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Unstable business model from service provider; service provider bought over or pivots to new market opportunities; lack of investment in infrastructure; lack of offline copy.

Vulnerable in the Presence of Good Practice

Clear export and migration pathways; preservation responsibility shouldered by the service provider;

2019 Review

The judges have introduced this entry as a subset of a previous entry, emphasizing the different threats faced by services that are ‘paid-for’ versus ‘free-at-the-point-of-use’ tools. Both depend on the business model of the vendor and the terms and conditions which they impose. This group of digital materials the business model and sustainability can only be presumed and contracts tend to be asymmetrical in favour of the supplier. Moreover, because these services have a low barrier to entry they may be favoured by agencies or individuals least able to respond to closure or loss.

Additional Jury Comments

If we're talking about the entire platforms and risk of the entirety of data on these, then the concern is that the corporation providing the service suddenly decides it's no longer of value to them. In these circumstances material could be removed quickly. That has happened already with some services and will certainly be seen again. Preservation is not a commitment that most providers make. Cultural Heritage organizations need to determine what out of these services is important to tackle and may use traditional web archiving tools or email preservation tools to get what they can. Possibly new tools around preserving data in these services for particular accounts - a sort of personal digital archive option – could be helpful and encouraged.

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