As reflected by extensive recent discussion in the legal and eDiscovery community in recent months (see links to examples here, here, here, and here) it is clear we all understand social media evidence is relevant to just about any type of civil and criminal case and thus must be routinely addressed in discovery. However, despite the obvious necessity for social media eDiscovery, legal and investigative professionals have lacked an effective means to effectively address social media evidence in their workflow in the same manner as email and files.
The situation reminds me of when I first entered the eDiscovery field as a co-founder of Guidance Software back in 1999. Everyone knew circa 1998 the importance of all the evidence residing on computers with those Windows 95 operating systems to their criminal cases and for civil discovery. But collecting and analyzing that evidence at that time meant that you either tortured yourself with DOS tools to image, restore and somehow search those hard drives or simply booted up live evidence and rummaged through Windows Explorer. Once Windows-based computer forensics tools like EnCase and later FTK became the new paradigm, the computer forensics field, and soon thereafter eDiscovery, took off and became a standard practice.
Today, instead of DOS tools, investigators, eDiscovery consultants and paralegals at major law firms tell us they are mostly scouring Facebook.com and Twitter.com and creating page-by-page screen captures. This agonizing exercise can take hours to capture each available screen for a single Facebook account. And as addressed by recent court decisions, screen captures are not best practices when establishing a proper chain of custody and seeking to authenticate the evidence at trial.
So this week, we are launching X1 Social Discovery to enable a far more efficient, cost-effective and defensible process to address social media evidence. In a nutshell, X1 Social Discovery provides two core benefits. First, it is very fast, comprehensive and intuitive, collecting and indexing tens of thousands of potentially relevant social media items per hour and searching them with the instantaneous and patented X1 Search technology all in a very simple user interface. Secondly, it provides best practices for the preservation and authentication of social media, generating hash values for all collected items, collecting and preserving dozens of unique social media metadata fields and documenting a clear and concise chain of custody from collection through export to load file or native format.
X1 Social Discovery has been several years in the making. The foundation is the award-winning X1 Search platform recently recognized by Network World as the best productivity search platform in the industry, beating out Google Desktop and Windows 7. X1 Social Discovery’s features and intelligence is borne through a perfect combination of years of research and development in the technical collection and search of social media by Idealab technologists and an experienced eDiscovery product development team.
In sum, we believe X1 Social Discovery represents enabling technology that addresses a critical need with an order of magnitude solution — One that allows for eDiscovery and legal professionals to not only reactively but proactively harvest the vast ocean of social media evidence in a rapid, defensible and cost-effective manner. We hope you agree and look forward to your comments, suggestions and continued support.