Florida Public Records Law (“Sunshine Law”) & Social Media
The Florida Public Records Law, or Government-in-the-Sunshine Law, requires that government agencies preserve public records regardless of physical form. This includes the digital records created through social media.
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(12) “Public records” means all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material, regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.
Social Media Records Guidelines from the Office of the Attorney General
The Office of the Attorney General of Florida specifically mentions Facebook in their Government-in-the-Sunshine Manual guidelines for computer records, and lays the responsibility for capturing and retaining social media records in Florida on the agencies that create them.
View the Attorney General's Guidelines
(1) Facebook: The Attorney General’s Office has stated that the placement of material on a city’s Facebook page presumably would be in connection with the transaction of official business and thus subject to Ch. 119, F.S., although in any given instance, the determination would have to be made based upon the definition of “public record” contained in s. 119.11, F.S AGO 09-19. To the extent that the information on the city’s Facebook page constitutes a public record, the city is under an obligation to follow the public records retention schedules established by law.
Florida Social Media Records Management in Practice
The City of Tallahassee offers a great example of a comprehensive social media policy that clearly outlines the impact of the Sunshine Law on social media records
View Tallahassee's Social Media Policy
- All Social Media sites must clearly indicate that all Posts are subject to public records laws.
- Ensure Social Media Account implementation and use complies with applicable mandates, including, but not limited to: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, ISS Security Policy (Administrative Policy 809), Chapter 119 Florida Statutes, City Policies 140 and 146 (Records Retention and Public Records – Administrative Policy 206), and any other applicable Federal, State or City policy.