Summer 2009-#2. Capturing Quicksilver: Records Management for Blogs, Twittering, and Social Networks.

Author:By Sharon D. Nelson, Esq. and John W. Simek

Vermont Bar Journal


Summer 2009-#2.

Capturing Quicksilver: Records Management for Blogs, Twittering, and Social Networks

THE VERMONT BAR JOURNALVolume 35, No. 2Summer 2009 Capturing Quicksilver: Records Management for Blogs, Twittering, and Social NetworksBy Sharon D. Nelson, Esq. and John W. SimekHave you caught the Twitter bug yet? If not, you can be assured that some within your law firm have indeed gotten the bug. And what are they saying, when sending their "tweets" via Twitter? Stupid stuff like "walking the dog" and "when did I get so darn fat?" But they are also saying "the Smith, Smith and Smith law firm is EVIL" and naming names. And "we're working on a case that's going to put Acme Corporation in a stock market tailspin."

Twitter, if you don't know, is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as "tweets"), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. That's a very short explanation; learn more at

Do you have a "pish posh" reaction to Twitter? Maybe you should rethink that feeling, if you do. From the National Law Journal: "Beware, Your 'Tweet' on Twitter Could Be Trouble," subheader "Latest networking craze carries many legal risks." And is a tweet done on firm resources a "record" for purposes of retention requirement and ESI preservation/production? It probably depends. If it is a company tweet, probably yes. A personal tweet, probably no. Probably. Much of this remains unsettled ground.

If you find that scary, you're not alone. For a while, record managers thought they had the universe pretty well covered with e-mail and company approved programs. After a while, some of them caught up with instant messages. But Twitter, blogs, and social networks have given almost everyone a Goliath-size headache. Whether you are thinking in terms of your own law firm or your clients, you must now consider these new technologies.

So How Do Records Managers Deal with This Constantly Evolving World?

New technology bedevils records management (RM). Worse yet, the minute RM catches up to technology, technology leapfrogs ahead with something else to cause consternation.

Douglas Winter, who heads the electronic discovery unit at Bryan Cave, stresses that tweets are no different from letters, e-mail, or text messages- they can be damaging and discoverable, which is especially problematic...

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