On October 1st, the US National Archives (NARA) posted the following on their Facebook page:
NARA has been true to its word and hasn’t posted anything since. The public, however? That’s a different story. Here is a sampling:
The Problem with the idea of a #socialgov shutdown
Lets imagine that one of these people decides to delete his or her comment a few hours (or even days) after posting it. Several other citizens do the same.
When the shutdown is over, a journalist submits a FOIA request for all of the activity on NARA’s Facebook page during the shutdown. And he wants ALL of the activity. The only problem? Those deleted comments are missing. And he knows it. He’s also very familiar with record keeping requirements and knows that all comments to an agency website — even deleted comments — must be retained.
In other words, even though the agency is not pushing information out, the incoming messages still constitute communication, and are therefore subject to public records laws.
So what’s a social media manager to do?
If you’re part of your government agency’s social media efforts, it’s important to remember that even though you are unable to keep up with the conversations during the shutdown, they are still happening. #socialgov continues on, and records need to be maintained.
The moral of the story is that public sector organizations need a social media record keeping solution. Manual record keeping (copy & paste and the use of screenshots) may have sufficed when there were actual humans manning the process, but the shutdown is a reminder that the manual approach is not always an option.
To learn more about your options, download our guide to social media record keeping for the public sector.