Social Media Records in Arkansas

Arkansas Freedom of Information Act & Social Media

The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires public agencies to preserve and maintain public records. Under Arkansas FOIA, public records include “writings, recorded sounds, films, tapes, or data compilations in any form,” which would include electronic content like social media. Therefore, social media records in Arkansas can be considered public records.

Show Arkansas law text

Excerpt from Arkansas Freedom of Information Act

25-19-103. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) “Public records” means writings, recorded sounds, films, tapes, or data compilations in any form, required by law to be kept or otherwise kept, and which constitute a record of the performance or lack of performance of official functions which are or should be carried out by a public official or employee, a governmental agency, or any other agency wholly or partially supported by public funds or expending public funds. All records maintained in public offices or by public employees within the scope of their employment shall be presumed to be public records.

State Attorney General Guidance on Arkansas Freedom of Information Act

The Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook was developed by the State Attorney General and co-sponsors to “communicate the importance of open government” to citizens. Regarding what constitutes a public record, the document clarifies the broad definiton to include “both records created by an agency and those received from third parties” that are within the scope of public office activities, where the physical form is “unimportant.” Under this interpretation, social media records in Arkansas do qualify as a public record.

View the Arkansas Attorney General Guidance

Excerpt from the Arkansas Freedom of Information Handbook

Q. What records are subject to the act?

A. Any record “required by law to be kept or otherwise kept and that constitutes a record of the performance or lack of performance of official functions” is a public record. Further, “all records maintained in public offices or by public employees within the scope of their employment are presumed to be public records.” The FOIA covers both records created by an agency and those received from third parties. The physical form of the record is unimportant, as the FOIA applies to “writings, recorded sounds, films, tapes, electronic or computer-based information, or data compilations in any medium.”

Arkansas Social Media Records Management in Practice

The City of Hot Springs, Arkansas has a clear policy recognizing social media content as a public record posted on the City Facebook page. The policy allows that all comments and posts are public records “subject to disclosure pursuant to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.” This policy provides a strong example of how to manage social media records in Arkansas for public records law compliance.

View City of Hot Springs Social Media Policy

Excerpt from City of Hot Springs Social Media Policy

Any comments submitted to this page and its list of fans are public records subject to disclosure pursuant to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. Public disclosure requests must be directed to the Public Information Director.
Comments posted to this page will be monitored.

Under the City of Hot Springs’ social media policy, the city reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments including those that have obscene language or sexual content, threaten or defame any person or organization, violate the legal ownership interest of another party, support or oppose political candidates or ballot propositions, promote illegal activity, promote commercial services or products or are not topically related to the particular posting. The City of Hot Springs also reserves the right to remove any posts at its discretion.

State flag map of Arkansas

ArchiveSocial in Arkansas

If you would like to speak with one of the cities, counties, or agencies in Arkansas that are currently using ArchiveSocial to meet Arkansas Freedom of Information Act requirements, or would like to learn more about how your social media can comply with the law, just use the button below to get in touch. [include_popup pardotform=”172″]

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