Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in
Federal Agencies

Federal Agencies & Social Media

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted by Congress in 1966 to ensure public access to the records generated by the Federal government and agencies. The law has undergone continual improvement during the past half century to keep pace with the way governments act and communicate, and the ways in which records are generated. In 2011, President Obama issued a memorandum that initiated an effort to update records management policies and practices to better incorporate 21st century records, including social media.

Guidelines from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on Social Media as Public Records

Social media records of Federal agencies may be considered records under the Freedom of Information Act. According to a recent bulletin issued by the National Archives, “[s]ocial media allows individuals to collaborate, create, organize, edit, comment on, combine, and share content, likely resulting in the creation of Federal records.

Federal Social Media Records Management in Practice

Two examples of how federal agencies are managing social media records for FOIA come from the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy. The Department of the Interior has a comprehensive social media policy that explicitly addresses social media as public records under FOIA. The Department of Energy recognized that, “a record is a record is a record,” including social media, as early as 2010.


How Social Media Archiving Works

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