Minnesota Public Records Law & Social Media
Social media records in Minnesota are subject to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, “which creates a presumption that state and local government records are accessible to the public.” The law applies to information in any form that is collected, created, received, maintained, or disseminated by government. This definition covers both posts made by government entities on social media and public comments.
View Act overview
Excerpt from: “Minnesota Government Data Practices Act: An Overview” prepared by the Minnesota House of Representatives
Data and Entities Covered by the Act
The act applies to information in any form held by certain government agencies.
All information in any form (written, computerized, on recording tape, microfilm, etc.) collected, created, received, maintained, or disseminated by government (Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subd. 7)
Entities Covered State agencies
- The University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
- Political subdivisions
- Statewide systems (record-keeping systems used in common by multiple state agencies and/or political subdivisions)
- Corporations and nonprofit social service agencies under contract with a government entity (Minn. Stat. §§ 13.02, subd. 7; 13.05, subd. 6)
- Judicial branch data classifications and access are governed by the rules of public access to records of the judicial branch, adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court (Minn. Stat. § 13.90)
- For purposes of this act, townships located outside of the seven-county metro area are not included in the definition of “political subdivision” (Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subd. 11)
- The legislature as a whole is not subject to the act, but individual legislators are subject to certain provisions governing elected officials and candidates for elected office
Minnesota Social Media Records Policy in Practice
Numerous cities and counties already have policies in place that clearly state that social media records in Minnesota are governed by the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The following are just a few examples of many:
Bloomington has a very in depth Social Media Policy that clearly recognizes that posts and comments to city-owned pages are subject to Minnesota public records laws and must be retained according to a schedule.
View Bloomington policy
Excerpt from the City of Bloomington Social Media Use Policy
5. City of Bloomington social media sites are subject to State of Minnesota 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. The Department maintaining the site is responsible for responding completely and accurately to any public records request 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 (see the City of Bloomington Facebook and Video standards). 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 relevant departmental public disclosure officer.
6. Minnesota state law and relevant City of Bloomington records retention schedules apply to social media formats and social media content. Unless otherwise addressed in a specific social media standards document, the Department maintaining a site shall preserve records required to be maintained pursuant to a relevant records retention schedule for the required retention period on a City server in a format that preserves the integrity of the original record and is easily accessible. Appropriate retention formats for specific social media tools are detailed in the City of Bloomington Facebook and Video standards.
View Carver policy
Excerpt from the Carver County Social Media policy:
Please note that Carver County does not share information gathered through its social media sites with third parties for promotional purposes. However, any information you provide to the County is subject to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. This law classifies certain information as available to the public on request.
Chisago County’s policy, like Bloomington’s, very clearly states the retention requirements for social media records in Minnesota:
View Chisago policy
Excerpt from the Chisago County Social Media Policy:
H. Chisago County’s social media sites are subject to State of Minnesota public records laws. Any content maintained in a social media format that is related to County business, including a list of subscribers and posted communication, is a public record and subject to a data retention schedule.