New 2018 report gives insight into online content preservation methods for legal matters.

As the internet continues to be an integral part of our daily lives, the practice of accurately preserving web content is quickly growing for legal matters, whether for due diligence or for use as evidence in court.

In their newly published 2nd annual e-Discovery Trends 2018: Web Content Collection report, Page Vault surveyed top litigators to obtain insights and best practices on the latest web content preservation trends. Practice areas surveyed include general litigation, intellectual property, insurance fraud, personal injury, class action and employment law

While the full report holds a complete look at the survey data that all legal professionals are encouraged to read, below are some of the most significant observations identified in the 2018 data:

1. Admissibility Concerns Rise as More Complex Web Content is Collected

The collection of complex web content, such as entire websites and videos, increased 43% from 2017. Because of the growth in cases that include the accurate preservation of difficult content, admissibility concerns have also increased. According to the data, 5 out of 8 litigators feared they were not collecting content correctly or were violating the evidentiary chain of custody. In addition, 94% of litigators had concerns and issues with web capture output due to an inaccurate appearance that did not exactly replicate the content seen online.

2. The Ever-Changing Behavior of Online Content Continues to Cause Potential Risks for Litigators

A high percentage of litigators confirmed the ever-changing nature of the internet, where over 80% of them experienced a situation when web content had been changed or even removed when they went back to it. In addition, 1 out of 4 litigators later realized that they missed discoverable evidence because they were not familiar with the platform or website that hosted the content.

3. More Litigators Turn to Everyday Search Engines for Case Research

In 2018, 61% of litigators worry that they may not be looking in the right place for relevant web content. As a result, it was not surprising to learn that 89% of litigators use a search engine first, like Google or Bing, when searching for information for a case. Search engines offer a broad way to conduct research and investigations that will likely produce a variety of closely related content. Common information searched for includes residence and employment history; professional and personal relationships; news and social media mentions; and posted reviews, such as on Amazon or Yelp.

4. Collecting Metadata About Online Content is a Critical Best Practice

More litigators are collecting key metadata about web content to verify its authenticity, regardless of how the online content is used for a case. The metadata that is considered to be critical during the preservation process includes time and date stamps, IP addresses, URLs, social media timestamps and geolocation data, and HTML source code.