When water cooler chatter became less common when the pandemic hit in 2020, chat platforms and text messages (IM) filled the gap. Collaboration tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Bloomberg Chat and IM are now ubiquitous, with more than 67% of white-collar employees still “working from home to some degree.” Indeed, a survey of IT managers reported that 91% of all companies now use at least two messaging apps.
As more companies integrate these channels into their typical business practices, more and more legal matters will involve the review of chat message conversations. It is imperative that companies have processes and systems in place to control, retain, monitor, and review such business communications.
There are numerous challenges for business in reviewing chat data, including identifying and accessing chat platforms, handling ephemeral data, identifying participants (with various aliases or usernames), decoding the cryptic nature of some messages, coordinating the attachments and responses to those messages, and making sense of notices when parties enter or leave the conversation. People also often speak differently in a chat setting (more tersely, and using shorthand, emojis, slang, abbreviations, and images) than in other communication forms. Thus, external context may be even more essential to understand the nuances of the matter being discussed.