Social media records in Wisconsin are governed by Wisconsin Statutes 19.31-19.39 which state “Any material on which written, drawn, printed, spoken, visual or electromagnetic information is recorded or preserved, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which has been created or is being kept by an authority.”
a. Handwritten, typed, or printed documents.
b. Maps and charts.
c. Photographs, films, and tape recordings.
d. Computer tapes and printouts, CDs and optical discs.
e. Electronic records and communications.
In November 2015, the Attorney General released a Wisconsin Public Records Law Compliance Guide which directly addresses social media as public records. The guide clearly states that content posted on social media by or on behalf of a government authority must be produced if it is responsive to a public records request. In short, government social media is public record in Wisconsin.
Excerpt from Wisconsin Public Records Law Compliance Guide, page 53
• Electronically stored information generally constitutes a “record” within the meaning of the public records law so long as the recorded information is created or kept in connection with official business. The substance, not the format, controls whether it is a record or not.
The City of Janesville offers a great example of a comprehensive social media policy that clearly outlines the impact of the Wisconsin Open Records Law on social media records
CITY OF JANESVILLE SOCIAL MEDIA USE POLICY
7. City of Janesville social media sites are subject to State of Wisconsin public records laws. Any content maintained in a social media format that is related to City business, including a list of subscribers and posted communication, is a public record. Content related to City business shall be maintained in an accessible format and so that it can be produced in response to a request.
8. Wisconsin State law and relevant City of Janesville records retention schedules apply to social media formats and their content.
9. Social media sites shall clearly indicate that any content posted or submitted for posting are subject to public disclosure. Users and visitors will be notified that public records requests shall be directed to the City Manager’s Office.
If you would like to speak with one of the cities, counties, or agencies in Wisconsin that are currently using ArchiveSocial to meet Wisconsin’s Open Records Act requirements, please contact the Sales Team and we’ll put you in touch.