Government uses social media to recover records

Internet users provide missing information for incomplete archives

Queensland State Archives (QSA) are successfully crowdsourcing missing historical records. The Australian state’s lead agency for recordkeeping has turned to Facebook and Reddit in the hopes that followers can provide information for dozens of their images. And it’s working. Their engaged audiences are filling in the blanks, often very quickly.

Queensland State Archives are turning to Reddit and Facebook to recover lost data.
1926, Brisbane central business district. Source: Queensland State Archives.

In an article with ABC News, archivist Nova Watson says, “in a lot of cases the supporting documentation for some older photo collections no longer exists.” She explains that anyone is able to help; their social network posts are genuine calls for help when they don’t have all the information.

In one example, Reddit users were able to solve the case of a missing photo location in under an hour. A 1952 photo of a house had limited and outdated information. But within the hour, an address was suggested that other Reddit users agreed on. QSA was able verify the information as correct and then update their database records.

And it continues. Within hours of this article, another question was asked on a Facebook post as shown below. Again, in under an hour, a follower had the answer.

Fortunately for QSA, their missing historical information is stored in the minds of members of the community that are willing to help. If your organization can’t afford to lose information, and can’t crowdsource it back, contact our global team of information management experts today.