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Public Records Laws and Social Media

Why archive? Archiving ensures compliance with public records laws and social media retention requirements. Review the official requirements in your state below.

Social Media is a Public Record

Agencies must be prepared to respond to Public Records Requests

In all 50 states social media is considered public record, and agencies have an obligation to comply with open records laws.

Sample State Guidance:

Washington State- Office of the Governor

“The agency recognizes that all content published and received by the agency using social media in connection with the transaction of the agency’s public business are public records for the purposes of Chapter 40.14 RCW (Preservation and destruction of public records)… The agency remains responsible for capturing electronic copies of its public records made or received using social media, including those records made or received using third-party websites.” Source

State of Missouri Office of the Secretary of State

“Content on social media sites is also subject to 610 RSMo., more commonly known as the Sunshine Law. Government records on a non-government owned server are subject to a Sunshine request, and legal discovery. Social media companies, however, are not obligated to respond to agency requests – only to what is agreed upon in the Terms of Use or Terms of Service... The responsibility to maintain the records resides with the agency, not the social media company.” Source

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State Laws

View your State Regulations

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Social media is a public record because it is communication from county government. It is something that is transparent and needs to be preserved in case there are ever questions from the media or the public about what the county has done and why.

Bronlea Mischler
Communications Coordinator
Skagit County, WA

Risks of not Archiving

If You Are Not Archiving, How Would You Respond to a Records Request?

Social media archiving is the only way to consistently respond to records requests.

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Social Media Archive

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social network web illustration

As a public entity, we are required by law to be able to reproduce that information if there is a public request for it, an open records request. That is not something we are capable of doing without having some type of system in place that actually can go out and get what they call the metadata.

April Warden
County Administrator
Seward County, Kansas

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