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Preserving social media: applying principles of digital preservation to social media archiving

Citation: Thomson, Sara Day (2017) Preserving social media: applying principles of digital preservation to social media archiving. In: Researchers, practitioners and their use of the archived web, 14-16 June 2017, School of Advanced Study, University of London.

While new research in social media holds great potential for new understanding, in the rush to exploit this new source of data we must not overlook the importance of ensuring long-term access. The issues of archiving social media—an extension of web archiving—reflect many of the challenges addressed by digital preservation, including external dependencies, personal data and individual privacy, ownership, and scalability. This is not surprising considering the capture of social media is essentially an act of digital preservation – taking action to ensure future access to otherwise temporary or vulnerable digital material. This paper examines a few key challenges to archiving social media, positioning them within the larger framework of challenges facing digital preservation. Each section discusses how established practices in digital preservation can be directly applied to social media data. This paper does not provide a detailed examination of individual platforms, or their data sharing policies, but rather provides an overview of the challenges to preserving social media and how those challenges might be met by approaches developed by the digital preservation community. This paper invites scholars and researchers, in academe and industry, to think about their data from the long view. Simultaneously, it encourages information practitioners (research data managers, librarians, archivists) to consider the needs of researchers (and future researchers). It lays out a path to collaboration to build a more sustainable approach to the preservation of social media.

Creators: Thomson, Sara Day and
Subjects: History
Digital Humanities
Divisions: School of Advanced Study: Central Offices
  • 2 June 2017 (accepted)


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