Networked Memory Project: A Policy Thought Experiment for the Archiving of Social Networks by the Library of Congress of the United States

Laws. 2014;3(3):469-508 DOI 10.3390/laws3030469


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Laws

ISSN: 2075-471X (Print)

Publisher: MDPI AG

LCC Subject Category: Law

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Chloé S. Georas (School of Law, University of Puerto Rico, P.O. Box 23349, San Juan 00931-3349, Puerto Rico)


Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

This article explores the challenges posed by an archival interest in the broad palimpsest of daily life left on social networks that are controlled by private corporations. It addresses whether social networks should be archived for the benefit of future generations and proposes a policy thought experiment to help grapple with these questions, namely, the proposal for the formation of the public interest-oriented Networked Memory Project by the Library of Congress for the archiving of social networks. My discussion of the challenges posed by this thought experiment will focus on the U.S. legal framework within which the Library of Congress operates and take Facebook. To the extent that social networks have user-generated contents that range from the highly “private” to “public” as opposed to other networked platforms that contain materials that are considered “public”, the bar for the historical archival of social networks is much higher. Almost every archival effort must contend with the legal hurdle of copyright, but the archiving of social networks must also address how to handle the potentially sensitive nature of materials that are considered “private” from the perspective of the social and legal constructions of privacy. My theoretical exercise of proposing the formation of the Networked Memory Project by the Library of Congress responds to the need to consider the benefits of a public interest-oriented archive of social networks that can counter the drawbacks of the incidental corporate archiving taking place on social networks.