Records experts from the Library of Virginia joined us for a recent Government Technology webinar to discuss Virginia social media records. Check out our highlights below, then listen to the full webinar online at govtech.com.
Library of Virginia Records Management Analyst, Glenn Smith, and Digital Collections Specialist, Sonya Coleman, joined us to discuss how social media is covered under the Virginia Public Records Act, and what government agencies need to know about managing those records.
How Does the Virginia Public Records Act Apply?
The discussion started with Glenn Smith providing very clear guidance on how the Virginia Public Records Act applies to social media.
“What is a public record?…Basically, it’s evidence of government. If there’s anything on social media that is evidence of government, then it might be a record.”
Often, there’s confusion over whether social media counts because it’s all digital. Smith provides the common interpretation of the public records act’s statement on formatting for clarification. “It doesn’t matter what format it’s in. Electronic records are public records just like the paper and microfilm of yesterday….Now, thrown into that mix, is social media.”
Another frequent point of confusion is related to where a communication comes from and how that effects if Virginia social media records qualify. “Typically we think of a public record as something that is created from within the office, but that is not always the case… if you have the comments or any kind of communication feature going on between the government and the public, you can just about guarantee that is going to be a record.”
Smith continues his section by getting into the gritty details of what decisions you need to make about how you’re using social media, what records will be created from that use, and the metadata that must be included with it. He hits home with a point on the transient nature of these digital platforms and how the responsibility to have these records lands on the public agency. “We think of social media as being out there for anyone to see and access – but after a while, that information may not be as findable as it once was in its original platform.” To ensure access, agencies should consider taking their Virginia social media records into their own hands.
Virginia Social Media Records Solutions
Sonya Coleman took a different angle on the conversation from the perspective of a social media coordinator. Her team evaluated the solutions for getting their social media compliant with the Virginia Public Records Act and shared the various concerns they considered.
Two key questions their team asked included whether the records are preserved holistically and chronologically and whether the records are accessible and easily searchable for public access.
‘Many people use Twitter and Facebook as their primary news source. Many feeds have replaced front pages for a lot of Virginians…this has become an important part of our communications strategy.”
Sonya wrapped up her segment by sharing the Library of Virginia’s open social media archive, an easily searchable public access point for all of their social media records.
“The comments policy and the open archive have made me feel much more comfortable and empowered when using social media on behalf of my organization.”
These actions by the Library of Virginia have proven their commitment to maintaining an environment of open communication between citizens and government in Virginia.
Is your agency staying transparent, too?
Check out the webinar to hear more about the Library of Virginia’s recommendations for managing social media records in Virginia.
Find more social media archiving resources for government here.
How can ArchiveSocial help your agency? Find out more and sample your archive at ArchiveSocial.com