Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in

Arizona Public Records Law and Social Media

The Arizona Public Records Law requires that government agencies preserve public records regardless of physical form, including electronic records. This law applies to social media records in Arizona.

Guidance from the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State

Arizona Secretary of State Records Analyst Jerry Lucente-Kirkpatrick discusses the intersection of social media and records management in this clip. Watch the full recording here.

Excerpt from a Government Technology Webinar on February 17, 2015.

Social Media Records Guidelines from the Arizona Attorney General

The Arizona Agency Handbook issued by the Attorney General addresses the need to preserve the embedded metadata in records generated and maintained in an electronic format.

Legal Precedent for Preserving Electronic Records

In a 2009 case involving email metadata (Lake vs. City of Phoenix), the Supreme Court of Arizona noted, “[w]hen a public officer uses a computer to make a public record, the metadata forms part of the document as much as the words on the page.” This comment highlights the need for sophisticated archiving of social media records in Arizona that goes beyond copying and pasting information visible on a screen or printed copy.

Arizona Social Media Records Management in Practice

The City of Phoenix offers a great example of a social media policy that explicitly identifies social media as subject to Open Meetings Laws. The City explains that the comments are social media records in Arizona and are subject to disclosure following a public records request.

Whether Arizona’s Public Records Law Extends Beyond its Terms and Applies to Privately Sent Messages

According to a State Attorney General Opinion from July 2017, electronic messages sent or received by a government-issued electronic device or through a social media account provided by a government agency for conducting government business are public records.

Social Media Record Retention Legal News in Arizona


A County Supervisor in Arizona was charged with destroying public records after she was unable to comply with a records request for social media from the media.

A public records request by a local newspaper found that some Pima County, AZ, officials were blocking users, deleting comments, and not retaining conversations on social media. The County Administrator had printouts showing deleted records, and the supervisor was charged with destroying public records.

Source:, “Are Politicians’ Facebook Comments Public Records?” February 2016


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