by Nadine R. Weiskopf
The social media explosion is
more than a cultural phenomenon; it is creating unprecedented opportunities and
challenges in the pursuit of electronic evidence. Social media presents a new
tool for judges and lawyers seeking to acquire relevant electronic data.
However, the unique nature of social networking websites is frustrating the
ability of lawyers and electronic discovery experts to gather information they
know is crucial to their cases.
According to a survey from
Arbitron Inc. released in April 2011, the percentage of Americans age 12 and
older who have a profile on one or more social networking websites has reached
almost half (48 percent) of the population-double the level from three years
ago (24 percent in 2008). The study also revealed that consumer use of social
networking sites is not just a youth phenomenon. While nearly eight in ten
Americans in their teens (78 percent) have personal profile pages, almost
two-thirds of 25- to 34-year-old adults (65 percent) and half of 35- to
44-year-olds (51 percent) also now have personal profile pages.
Moreover, these social media sites receive a lot of attention from users. The
Arbitron study found that 30 percent of Americans age 12 and older, who have a
profile on at least one social networking website, use those sites
"several times a day" as compared with only 18 percent one year ago.
Simply put, social media has become a part of mainstream daily behavior.
For litigation professionals, the social media explosion is more than a
cultural phenomenon; it is simultaneously creating unprecedented opportunities
and challenges in the pursuit of electronic evidence. On the one hand, social
media presents an exciting new tool in the arsenal of judges and lawyers
seeking to acquire relevant electronic data. At the same time, the unique
nature of social networking websites is frustrating the ability of lawyers and
electronic discovery experts to gather information they know is crucial to
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Nadine R. Weiskopf is
director of strategic planning for litigation software at LexisNexis, where she
is responsible for developing and executing strategic plans for various service
and software lines. Prior to joining LexisNexis in 2006, she was a litigator at
Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro, and other West Coast law firms. Weiskopf
earned her law degree from the Seattle University School of Law and her
undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. She can be contacted at