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 in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

No change No Change

Previous classification: Practically Extinct


Trend in 2022:


No change No Change


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;

2021 Jury Review

This entry was added in 2019 from a nominated entry that was split into three subsets by the 2019 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 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 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 suppressing content that was being used in open source investigation for journalistic or judicial purposes and may have resulted in refutation or prosecution. The 2019 Jury recognized 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 noted the unintended consequence for journalists and investigatory authorities from the rush to deletion, illustrating how this entry further underlines the relative fragility of all social media content.
The 2021 Jury agreed with the current classification and description with no change to trend.

Additional Comments

This is important for social context but may be picked up inadvertently through other ways; it remains ambiguous about who has ultimate responsibility for collecting and preserving this.

See also:

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