Preserving Social Media: the Problem of Access

Thomson, S. D. and Kilbride, W. (2015) Preserving Social Media: the Problem of Access. In: 1st Annual Digital Preservation in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Dublin, Ireland, 26-27 Jul 2015,

111476.pdf - Accepted Version



As the applications and services made possible through Web 2.0 continue to proliferate and influence the way individuals exchange information, the landscape of social science research, as well as research in the humanities and the arts, has the potential to change dramatically and to be enriched by a wealth of new, user-generated data. In response to this phenomenon, the UK Data Service have commissioned the Digital Preservation Coalition to undertake a 12-month study into the preservation of social media as part of the ‘Big Data Network’ programme funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The larger study focuses on the potential uses and accompanying challenges of data generated by social networking applications. This paper, ‘Preserving Social Media: the Problem of Access’, comprises an excerpt of that longer study, allowing the authors a space to explore in closer detail the issue of making social media archives accessible to researchers and students now and in the future. To do this, the paper addresses use cases that demonstrate the potential value of social media to academic social science. Furthermore, it examines how researchers and collecting institutions acquire and preserve social media data within a context of curatorial and legislative restrictions that may prove an even greater obstacle to access than any technical restrictions. Based on analysis of these obstacles, it will examine existing methods of curating and preserving social media archives, and second, make some recommendations for how collecting institutions might approach the long-term preservation of social media in a way that protects the individuals represented in the data and complies with the conditions of third party platforms. With the understanding that web-based communication technologies will continue to evolve, this paper will focus on the overarching properties of social media, analysing and comparing current methods of curation and preservation that provide sustainable solutions.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Keywords:digital preservation, social media preservation, access restrictions, data-driven research, web archives
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kilbride, Dr William and Thomson, Ms Sara
Authors: Thomson, S. D., and Kilbride, W.
Subjects:Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4050 Electronic information resources
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with permission of Authors
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