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 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.
Municipality of Anchorage, AK
The Municipality of Anchorage, AK also has a policy that defines social media posts as records under the Alaska Public Record Act, and states social media use shall comply with “records retention, Municipal Public Records Act, First Amendment” and other laws.
View Anchorage's Social Media Policy
Excerpt from: Municipality of Anchorage Social Media Policy
e) Site Content
i) All content posted on department social media sites is considered public records subject to disclosure under Anchorage Municipal Code chapter 3.90. Public records requests related to a MOA social media site shall be handled by the department managing the site.
g) Records Management
i) Departments are responsible for the creation, administration, archiving, and deactivation of social media accounts.
ii) All content is to be fully accessible to any person requesting records from the social media site.