Digital Web Archiving and Slack: Three Things You Need to Know

| April 6 2017

Digital Web Archiving and Slack: Three Things You Need to Know

Slack is a web-based communication platform for teams and individual employees to send instant messages to each other while integrating with tools you’re already using. Although it’s user-friendly, it can present challenges for digital web archiving, legal holds, and compliance purposes. With its messaging, document sending, and employee management controls, it’s crucial to consider how to manage and find this data.

Basic Features of Slack

Before diving into these issues, let’s review the features of Slack, which has become a go-to, easy-to-use, communication product since it first came on the market in 2013:

  • The program has a Twitter-like interface and allows user to organize each conversation into hashtag subject lines. (#HowConvenient.)
  • Organizations and individuals are using Slack to replace or supplement email for a quicker, more efficient method of team communication. LinkedIn, NASA, The Wall Street Journal, and other companies use it to talk with and monitor their employees on one platform.
  • You can send direct messages to a group of people outside of Slack’s public or private channels (how conversations are organized). For example, if you’re in the accounting department, you may be part of an accounting channel that’s either public or private, wherein you can send instant messages to individuals and the group. You may also be privy to multiple channels with multiple topics.
  • The platform also allows you to drag and drop documents from a shared library into a message either to a channel or one person.

Litigation and Compliance Issues

While Slack makes it easy to share information, it presents issues when it comes to preserving data for litigation and compliance purposes. That’s why it’s crucial to be able to retrieve Slack messages in public and private channels as well as direct messages for cost-effective, defensible legal responses. You also need to know what’s included in “Slack content,” which means not only the Slack message, but also embedded files and images, plus external links.

Therefore, you need to know the following three key points about Slack’s legal and compliance capabilities and how they need to meet your existing or needed legal hold procedures:

1. Slack has a built-in feature for downloading content, but only with certain versions. Supervisors and legal teams can collect ESI data from Slack using a built-in administrator feature, but that feature isn’t available in all Slack versions: In Enterprise-level versions, the account or user can download Slack content as JSON files, which are similar to .xml files and look like .csv files. Conversation threads from each day can then be exported into folders and individual JSON files. From there, you can view the data in a basic WordPad program. 

In 2014, Slack started allowing organizations to export all messages team members sent and received. This included private messages between two people and groups. A Slack spokesperson said these changes were primarily made so federal agencies could comply with Freedom of Information Act requests and for financial services companies to meet stricter message retention policies in the case of litigation.

2. But this feature is not an airtight litigation and compliance tool. While this capability in Slack seems to make content export easy, it doesn’t mesh well with capabilities organizations need to collect, preserve and, most importantly, review content for litigation and compliance purposes. Retention is generally set at the team level, so when one member of the team is subject to a legal hold, you don’t want to change the company’s retention policy for only one person. You’ll need a way to selectively place individuals’ Slack content on hold.  Plus, you need a way to make the exported JSON content usable in other applications and workflows.

3. Working with an expert is still the best way to pick up (the) Slack. A Slack expert can help with all your eDiscovery issues. This means you’ll be working with an eDiscovery pro on an airtight preservation strategy and moving content into a review platform. Working with Hanzo means making the most out of your eDiscovery review tools and completing tasks only once to avoid wasting time and money.

When looking for ways to archive Slack, consider a partner who can help you Solve the big issues about collecting and preserving slack content that we’ve listed here, and then blend with existing eDiscovery workflows and review tools like Relativity®. Ultimately, your goal is to collect, preserve, and analyze Slack content, including embedded files and third-party links, even for private messages and groups. With the right solution, you can also gain expert insights into a variety of business challenges, including IP and litigation protection as well as adherence to policies and procedures to keep your data – and your organization – safe.


Real World Examples of Web Content Preservation Trends from Top Companies 

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