Alaska Public Records Act & Social Media
Social media records in Alaska are governed by the Alaska Statutes Title 40: Public Records and Recorders, which defines records as any evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities. The law defines records not by their physical form or characteristic, but by the informational value in them. In other words, it is the the content that defines social media records in Alaska, not the medium.
View Alaska Law Text
(6) “record” means any document, paper, book, letter, drawing, map, plat, photo, photographic file, motion picture film, microfilm, microphotograph, exhibit, magnetic or paper tape, punched card, electronic record, or other document of any other material, regardless of physical form or characteristic, developed or received under law or in connection with the transaction of official business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by an agency or a political subdivision, as evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the state or political subdivision or because of the informational value in them.
Alaska Social Media Records Management in Practice
Several towns, cities, and state agencies have already implemented policies that specify the retention of social media records in Alaska to satisfy public records law. The City of Homer Alaska published a very comprehensive guide titled, “Everything you and your department need to know to go social” which includes everything from best practices for setting up a government Facebook page to automated record retention to satisfy the Alaska Public Records Act.
View City of Homer's Social Media Guidance
Excerpt from: “Everything you and your department need to know to go social”City of Homer
8. City social media sites are subject to the State of Alaska Public Records Act (AS 40.25.100 – 40.25.295). As a result, any information posted on City social media sites, including but not limited to subscriber’s lists, posted communications, correspondence between posters and City staff, and communications submitted for posting, may be a public record subject to public disclosure.
9. Information posted on a City social media site is subject to management and retention in the same manner as other City records. The City Clerk shall cause information posted on a City social media site to be inventoried, stored and destroyed in the same manner and at the same time as if the information was maintained in written, printed or photographic form.
City of Houston, AK
The City of Houston, AK also has a policy that defines social media posts as records under the Alaska Public Record Act, and requires that content posted on social media be, “maintained in an accessible format…so that it can be produced in response to a request.”
View City of Houston's Social Media Guidance
Excerpt from: “City of Houston Social Networking Policy” City of Homer
H. City of Houston social media sites are subject to State of Alaska 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 public record. The Department maintains the site is responsible for responding completely and accurately to any public records requests for public records on social media. Content related to City business shall be maintained in an accessible format and so that it can be produced in response to a request. Wherever possible, such sites shall clearly indicate that any articles and any other content posted or submitted for posting are subject to public disclosure. Users shall be notified that public disclosure requests must be directed to the City Clerk or designated PIO.