In this digital age we expect that significant cultural events are well documented, particularly with the advent of social media. However, a recent study shows that much of what is documented on social media is soon lost forever.
The research was conducted by Hany SalahEldeen and Michael Nelson from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia,reports MIT’s Technology Review, who wanted to investigate how many of the resources shared on social media are still available on the web, either in its original form or as a public archive.
SalahEldeen and Nelson focused on six key events that took place between June 2009 and March 2012, including Michael Jackson’s death in June 2009, the H1N1 outbreak in September 2009, and the Egyptian revolution in early 2011.
In the case of the latter, social media played a crucial role, being used to organise the uprisings and protests that led to the overthrowing of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime and a fully democratic election in Egypt. However, SalahEldeen and Nelson’s report, aptly titled ‘Losing My Revolution’, shows that at least 11pc of resources shared on social media about this event were lost and 20pc archived one year on. In the case of earlier events, 27pc of resources were lost and 41pc archived after two and a half years.
In fact, SalahEldeen and Nelson found that there was a linear relationship between the time of sharing a resource and the percentage lost, concluding that, after one year of publishing, nearly 11pc of shared resources will be lost and we continue to lose a further 0.02pc each day after that.
Social media image via Shutterstoc