Endangered large

Social media services offered free at the point of use with a subscription model based on reselling user behavior and/or advertising.

Group: Social Media

Trend: No change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

Last update: 2018

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, Pinterest, Yahoo Groups

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Lack of preservation capacity in provider; Lack of preservation commitment or incentive from provider; Lack of storage replication; proprietary products or formats; poor data protection; inaccessibility to web archiving; political or commercial interference; Lack of offline equivalent; super-abundance; poorly managed IPR; Lossy compression in upload scripts.

Vulnerable in the Presence of Good Practice

Offline backup and documentation of media assets; Migration plan; Early warning from vendors; Roadmap from vendors; Accessible to web harvest; Suitable export functionality; Licencing enables preservation; Preservation commitment from vendor; Preservation capability in vendor;

Resilient to hacking; Selection criteria;

2019 Review

The judges have introduced this entry as a subset of a previous entry, emphasizing the different threats faced by online services that are ‘paid-for’ versus ‘free-at-the-point-of-use’. Both depend on the business model of the vendor and the terms which they impose. For this group of digital materials the business model and sustainability can only be guessed 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

Social media capture via web harvesting has become increasingly difficult. The platforms continue to put up barriers to automated capture that prevent preservation of even so-called public content. For example, campaign websites or other election-related content that is only published in Facebook or on Twitter, because these services are "Free". This content is of particular concern as it appears on no other website. Web archivists are constantly shifting strategies and approaches and trying out new (but limited) tools to best capture this content. If we cannot successfully preserve these platforms, we are missing out on documenting organizations, campaigns and elections around the globe. Much of this data exists as data sets based on aggregated use rather than individual files.

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