Extract from Philip Favro’s article “Snapchat Spoliation Case Highlights the Importance of E-Discovery Competence”
Courts have repeatedly emphasized that lawyers should take actionable steps at the outset of litigation to safeguard the preservation of relevant ESI. One of those steps typically includes investigating and understanding client information systems that contain relevant information. This is particularly the case with social media and messaging apps whose content is dynamic and—barring swift action—can easily be modified and destroyed.
The recent Doe v. Purdue University case out of the Northern District of Indiana—in which the court sanctioned plaintiff for failing to preserve relevant images and videos from his Snapchat application—underscores this point. Purdue University teaches that counsel must understand the retention and deletion features of Snapchat and other messaging apps and social media if they are to help their clients preserve relevant ESI.
Snapchat Deletion and Retention Features
Snapchat is an ephemeral messaging application that characterizes itself as a deletion first communication tool. While Snapchat enables users to both create and share images and videos (among other things) with other Snapchat users, most of that content “will be automatically deleted once they’ve been viewed or have expired.”