Practically Extinct small

Older open source social media and web content which supports crowd-sourced investigation and fact-checking to verify or refute claims of state agencies and rebel groups in the context of historic political or military conflict.

Group: Digital Legal Records

Trend: new Entry

Unanimous Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Immediate action necessary.  Where detected they should be stabilised and reported as a matter of urgency

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

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.


Social media sources relating to the Arab spring

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Offline backup documented and available for recovery;

2019 Review

This is a new entry received through open submission in 2019 and subsequently split into three elements by the Jury, relating to current, recent and historic sources.  This entry relates in particular to materials published at the time of the ‘Arab’ spring.  Social media companies had initially taken little or no action with respect to social media content in conflict zones, taking the view either that they were mere technical platforms and therefore not responsible for editorial; or that the platforms were being used largely for a social good, loosening the control of the media from oppressive regimes.  However, as the Arab Spring progressed, the companies came under significant pressure to monitor content with more care, in part because terrorist groups had begun using the social media platforms for propaganda purposes.  The social media companies responded by implementing algorithms that removed or deleted content.  This had the unintended consequence of deleting or supressing content that was being used in open source investigation for journalistic or judicial purposes and may have resulted in refutation or prosecution. 

The Jury recognizes the duty of care that social media companies have towards their users and is in no sense seeking to have that material re-published on the open web. But it notes the unintended consequence for journalists and investigatory authorities from the rush to deletion.   This entry further underlines the relative fragility of all social media content.

Additional Jury Comments


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