Utah Public Records Law & Social Media
Social media records in Utah are subject to the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) which classifies records as, “a book, letter, document, paper, map, plan, photograph, film, card, tape, recording, electronic data, or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics that is prepared, owned, received, or retained by a governmental entity or political subdivision.”
View GRAMA text
Excerpt from Government Records Access and Management Act; Current as of May 2015,
:(22) (a) “Record” means a book, letter, document, paper, map, plan, photograph, film, card, tape, recording, electronic data, or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics:
(i) that is prepared, owned, received, or retained by a governmental entity or political subdivision; and
(ii) where all of the information in the original is reproducible by photocopy or other mechanical or electronic means
Utah Social Media Records Guidance from the Utah State Archives and Records Service
The Utah State Archives recognized the importance of social media records in Utah as early as 2011, when they released guidance for local governments and state agencies on how and why to use social media. The guidelines indicate that GRAMA applies to social media records in Utah:
In Utah law, a record is “material regardless of physical form or characteristics…where all of the information in the original is reproducible (Utah Code 63G-2-103(22). Content on a social media site that relates to transactions of government business is a record and must be managed accordingly.
The guidelines also outline the potential risks of social media and recommend record retention as a tool to mitigate those risks. It is important to note that this guide was written before there were effective social media archiving solutions on the market, and that there are now options for agencies who wish to use social media and comply with Utah law.
View Guidelines text
Excerpt from “Preliminary Guidance on Government Use of Social Media” published November 14, 2011 by the Utah State Archives:
PRESERVING SOCIAL MEDIA RECORDS
By law, you must ensure that records are accessible and are retained for the duration of their retention periods. This means you will usually need to manage most records – except for records with very short retention periods – in your own technical environment.
Utah Social Media Records Policy in Practice
Many cities and counties already have policies in place that acknowledge that social media records in Utah are governed by GRAMA. The City of Ogden offers a good example of a policy that is accessible on their Facebook page and informs users that information on their page may be considered public record.
Ogden City's Facebook Policy
Excerpt from Ogden City’s Facebook policy:
This is Ogden City’s Official Facebook page. The purpose of the Ogden City Government Facebook page is to serve as a mechanism for communication between Ogden City government and members of the public. For more information about Ogden City government, please visit www.ogdencity.com. All content created or posted on Ogden City’s Facebook page belongs to the city and may be considered a public record. The city reserves the right to restrict or remove any content that is deemed to be in violation of Ogden City’s social media policy or any applicable law.