Endangered large

Digital images or video with no analogue equivalent and where the only copy is online with a social media platform or cloud image hosting service.

Group: Social Media

Trend: No Change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2018

Last update: 2019

Previous category: Endangered

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.


Flickr; Vimeo; YouTube; Instagram; Periscope; DropBox; Facebook; Twitter.

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

lack of preservation capacity in provider; lack of explicit preservation commitment or incentive from provider to preserve; lack of storage replication by provider; dependence on proprietary products or formats; poor management of data protection; inaccessibility to web archiving services; political or commercial interference; lack of offline equivalent; over-abundance; poorly managed intellectual property rights; lossy compression applied in upload scripts.

‘Vulnerable’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Offline backup; lossless compression; good documentation; accessible to web harvesting; clarity of intellectual property rights which enable preservation; credible preservation commitment from service provider; export pathway.

2019 Review

This entry was introduced in 2018 and this time has been placed within a wider social media group. It shares many of the challenges with other entries in the group, with a dependency on a global service provider whose business model can only be presumed and tied to users via asymmetrical contracts that favour the supplier. Moreover, because these services have a low barrier to entry they are used by agencies or individuals least able to respond to closure or loss. Images and videos present distinct preservation challenges which need to be addressed.

Additional Jury Comments

The platforms themselves get in the way. If there were enough money and an institution willing to take on large datasets or archiving via existing web archiving tools, with the permission of rights holders and the platforms it would probably be possible to harvest this content. This gets trickier with the closed networks and content in user accounts that are not accessible to the public, so web archives wouldn't necessarily be able to step in. Instead, individual users armed with personal digital archiving tools and knowledge would need to preserve their own data.

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