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Social media tools needed at National Archives

They used to say that journalism was the first rough draft of history. Today, it is probably more accurate to say it is social media.

So I wasn’t surprised by the request for information issued this week by the National Archives and Records Administration. They are looking for tools that will help them capture, manage and preserve social media data from the various platforms the agency uses. The tool also has to meet federal records management and eDiscovery laws.

But the RFI is another sign of how important social media is to the way the government communicates with the public.

Currently, NARA doesn’t have a tool and instead uses manual filtering and screen-capturing techniques.

What they want is a solution that can capture and store data as well as filter and quarantine content that doesn’t meet policy requirements.

The RFI describes several requirements:

  • 100 percent real-time capture of all posts and comments in context, including metadata such as platform type, creation timestamp and username.
  • Data must be searchable and exportable and meet requirements of the Revised Format Guidance for Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records.
  • Flexibility to add new platforms within one month of NARA using the new platform and pull in data from the first use of the platform by NARA.

NARA uses a wide range of social media platforms currently including Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress and YouTube. It has over 120 individual social media projects that create or share content.

Responses are due March 2.

I did some hunting around on FBO.gov, and I didn't find a lot of information on social media archiving opportunities at other agencies, but when you consider the number of social media feeds agencies have -- NASA has 14.8 million Twitter followers -- it isn't hard to imagine that other agencies are also facing archiving requirements. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 18, 2016 at 10:02 AM


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