How to Filter, Monitor & Archive Social Media Data in the Workplace

Social media is continuing to grow at exponential rates. By 2016 it’s projected that there will be 4.87 Billion social media accounts and 2.35 Billion social media users. In 2014 business users spent an average of 43 minutes per day on business-related social networking sites, and consumers spent an average of 50 minutes per day on social media.1 In support of the growth of social media in the workplace, the need for a compliance solution, to capture and archive this important data, is clear.

Businesses are increasingly using and are allowing employees to use social media in the workplace. Social networks like Yammer, Facebook and Twitter are used on a daily basis. Unfortunately, with this increased usage, awareness, and availability comes increased risks and possible scenarios where things could go wrong. As a result eDiscovery requests for social media data have become more and more common in the courtroom. “The number of cases focusing on the discovery of social media continued to skyrocket in the first half of 2014. Reflecting that the use of social media continues to proliferate in business and social contexts, courts and commentators alike have noted that discovery of social media is now routine.”2 Courts have had a bit of a mixed reaction to social media discovery requests. But they have been clear about this: if relevant to the claims of a case, social media can and will be admitted as evidence, especially data created during the normal course of business. The Federal Rule of Evidence 902(11), authorizes the admission of business records maintained in the regular course of business, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) creates a duty to “preserve potential evidence when litigation can be reasonably anticipated.” That means that all Electronically Stored Information (ESI) must be available for use in discovery. ESI includes all electronic communication including: email, instant messages, social media postings, mobile phone SMS/MMS messages, and even web search logs. Obviously the discovery of social media data will continue to be a hot topic in this year and in years to come, but this shouldn’t be cause for alarm. You can get ahead of the curve and can begin archiving social media data today.

*Important Update as of December 2015* A new version of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure book went into effect December 1, 2015. Subsection 37(e) replaces the previous subpart in its entirety, and features a new title: “Failure to Preserve Electronically Stored Information.” In addition to this amendment to the previous rule, Rule 37(e) is accompanied by official Committee Advisory notes that clearly call out counsel to preserve clients’ ESI, and that counsel should. “… become familiar with their clients’ information systems and digital data – including social media – to address these issues.” The implication of the new law is clear: social evidence is given at least equal weight and import as other forms of ESI such as email and documents.
Link to full FRCP text

There are numerous reasons why your organization can, and likely should have a social media archiving solution in place to be prepared. Whether you need to monitor and archive social media as a result of financial or government regulations, want to better protect your company against litigation, or even if you just want to monitor and prevent harassment or major corporate blunders like American Airlines lewd Tweet, a filtering, monitoring solution is becoming a best business practice.

In previous posts we’ve talked about the Risk and Benefits of social media in the workplace and for business as well as best practices such as setting up an effective social media policy and training your employees. But now we want to get into the the HOW of social media monitoring, filtering, and governance and walk you through how this technology functions in the real world.

How to Monitor Social Media

There are three ways in which an organization can monitor social media.

  1. Monitor on the network, using a social media proxy, like Retain Social.
    • You tie the social media compliance proxy to your firewall, using an ICAP protocol. This makes it so that all internet traffic has to go through that proxy. By routing the traffic through the proxy you have the ability to monitor all posts that are made via social media. You can then take action on what to do with the post, whether that is to allow, block, alert or block and alert.
  2. Monitor off the network, using an app, for example, the Retain Social Workstation Agent
    • A workstation agent that can be deployed on any Windows or Mac machine allows you to monitor off-network communications. A typical agent, or app, communicates with the social media compliance proxy and allows you to monitor content via that proxy.
  3. Monitor your corporate profile with an application, like the Retain Social Facebook app.
    • A monitoring app monitors the corporate profile and protects it from unwanted or malicious posts and comments, according to set policies.

How to Filter Social Media

There are two ways to filter social media.

  1. On the network, using a social media proxy, like Retain Social.
    • You tie the social media compliance proxy to your firewall, using an ICAP protocol. The proxy has rules that are setup by default, or defined by you. As traffic is routed through that proxy, the rules are applied and social media content is blocked or filtered based on set policies.
  2. Off the network, using an app, for example, the Retain Social Workstation Agent
    • A workstation agent can be deployed on any Windows or Mac machine, allows you to monitor, filter, and capture off-network communications. A typical agent, or app, communicates through the social media compliance proxy, and obtains social media content via that proxy. The Retain Social Workstation Agent can be provisioned without the end-user’s knowledge.

facebook blocked message

How to Capture and Archive Social Media

Social media is generally archived by integrating with the firewall via an ICAP protocol, similar to the way filtering and monitoring works. With Retain Social, Retain talks to the Retain Social Compliance Proxy and captures all of the messages down from the proxy and archives them in the Retain central archive. These messages are archived in context per user, meaning that you can see the whole message string and conversation. The ability to monitor, filter and archive all your company’s electronic communication data (social media, email, instant messages, mobile device messaging, and web search data) into one organized central archive is unique to Retain. However, in general, archiving social media is done via integration with a firewall.

Here is a diagram on how Retain Social works!

social compliance diagram

What to do next?

Here are 4 recommended steps to take:

  1. Create & implement a Social Media Policy for your organization. If you don’t already have one in place, you can download this free Social Media Policy template to get started!
  2. Download a 30 day free trial of Retain social here. Give it a try. Kick the tires and see how it can benefit your company.
  3. Read these posts to learn the Benefits, Risks, and Why you Should be using/allowing social media in the work place.
  4. Learn more about Retain social at Retain Social,

Start archiving social media today! Click here to download a FREE 30 day evaluation of Retain.


1. The Radicati Group – Social Media Market 2012-2016
2. GIBSON DUNN – 2014 Mid-Year Electronic Discovery Update

Photo Credit: Yammer’s Office by Robert Scoble is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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