Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in
Kentucky Open Records Act and Social Media
Social media records in Kentucky fall under the Kentucky Open Records Act. The Law requires that government agencies manage and maintain all content that they prepared, owned, used, or possess, “regardless of physical form.” Under this definition, social media records in Kentucky do qualify as a public record and therefore must be retained.
Show Kentucky law text
Excerpt from the Kentucky Open Records Act.
(2) “Public record” means all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, discs, diskettes, recordings, software, or other documentation regardless of physical form or characteristics, which are prepared, owned, used, in the possession of or retained by a public agency.
Guidance on Social Media Records in Kentucky from the Department for Libraries and Archives
The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives has provided guidelines that explain when social media records in Kentucky should be retained. The document clarifies that social media content does meet the definition of “public records” as outlined in the Kentucky Open Records act and therefore “must be managed in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.”
View the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives Guidance
Social Media as Public Records The Public Records Act (KRS 171.420-171.740) defines public records as, “…documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which are prepared, owned, used, in the possession of or retained by a public agency.” Social media content meets this definition and must be managed in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.
KRS 171.640 and 171.680 and Kentucky Administrative Regulations, Title 725, Chapter 1, Archives, place responsibility with each agency to manage public records created or received by that agency. Agencies should consult the General Schedule for State Agencies or the Local Government General Records Schedule along with their agency specific records retention schedule, to determine the appropriate retention period for records on social media sites.
Kentucky Social Media Records Management in Practice
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Customer Use Policy for Social Media allows for deleting comments that violate their content policy, but does not require that records be retained. Partial policies like this expose governments to risk, such as First Amendment lawsuits and other legal headaches. The Lexington Police Department references this policy for their department, however they further clarify it on their Facebook page by stating that content is “subject to public disclosure.”
View the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Customer Use Policy
Excerpt from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Customer Use Policy
Commenting on an LFUCG Social Media Site
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government agencies share information, images and video with the public through external social media websites. Comments made by the public to these sites are reviewed and, while comments will not be edited by LFUCG personnel, a comment may be deleted if it violates the comment policy described here.
View the Lexington PD Facebook Policy
Excerpt from the Lexington Police Department Facebook Page Moderation Policy:
Long Description: The opinions expressed by visitors to this page do not reflect the opinions of the department. Comments will be monitored and the department reserves the right to remove obscenities, off-topic comments and personal attacks. Any content posted or submitted for posting is subject to public disclosure.
Excerpt from the Lexington Social Media Public Comment Policy:
LFUCG social media accounts are subject to the Kentucky Open Records Act. Any content maintained in a social media format that is related to LFUCG business, including a list of subscribers and posted communications, is a public record. Content posted or submitted for posting is subject to public disclosure under the Kentucky Open Records Act.
Social Media Record Retention Legal News in Kentucky
Read about Kentucky cases and precedents involving social media and public record retention.
Assistant chief of police’s social media records requested by media, upheld by judge.
After the assistant chief of police was accused of sending racially-charged messages on social media, the media requested the records of the messages under the state’s Open Records Act, and a judge also ordered the records as evidence to be released.
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