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Here’s the scenario: An organization is sued by a former employee who alleges that she was sexually harassed in the workplace through a series of allegedly offensive and degrading text messages sent by a supervisor. The organization receives a discovery request for the text messages; however, the supervisor left the company before the lawsuit was filed, and pursuant to company policy, all data on his company device was deleted. The opposing lawyer argues that the employer should have preserved the device, and now must attempt to recover the deleted text messages from the device or obtain the data from its third-party communications provider. The organization is considering how to respond and whether it should take steps to rein in future text message communications.

According to recent studies from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project:

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