Endangered large

Commercial social media services which are based on a costed subscription and contract.

Group: Social Media

Trend: no change

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 many people and sectors.

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.


Premium versions of Vimeo, Flickr, Yammer, Slack, Mircosoft Teams and others.

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Unstable business models and pricing schedules from providers; lack of export functionality; unstable terms and conditions; lack of onsite copy of key media; lack of strategic plan for IT provision; confusion on IPR; asymmetrical contract arrangements; conflating preservation and access.

‘Vulnerable’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Offline back up for key media; fit to preservation and records management plan; strategic roadmap for adoption of social media;

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’. Both depend on the business model of the vendor and the terms and conditions which they impose. For this group, the business model and sustainability are more obvious and contracts may be enforceable more readily. Moreover, because these services have a slightly higher barrier to entry they may be favoured by agencies better able to respond to closure or loss.

Additional Jury Comments

Traditional web archiving can be employed where the user pays for a service but content is ultimately publicly available (such as Flickr) where the user may pay for a full account to be able to host more photos publicly. But much is unclear about how to preserve internal social media / closed networks that web archiving can't get to or existing tools don't cover. The growth in use of these products for communication and social networking leads us to think this is endangered rather than vulnerable. It’s possible that existing tools could be modified to tackle some of these closed networks but that is likely to require some investments, perhaps related to corporate records in some cases (thinking about internal Slacks, for instance), and more education about the importance of preserving this material and not trusting the publishing platforms to host the content forever.

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