Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in
Minnesota Public Records Law and Social Media
Social media records in Minnesota are subject to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, “which creates a presumption that state and local government records are accessible to the public.” The law applies to information in any form that is collected, created, received, maintained, or disseminated by government. This definition covers both posts made by government entities on social media and public comments under Minnesota public records laws.
View Data Practices Act overview
Excerpt from: “Minnesota Government Data Practices Act: An Overview” prepared by the Minnesota House of Representatives
Data and Entities Covered by the Act
The act applies to information in any form held by certain government agencies.
All information in any form (written, computerized, on recording tape, microfilm, etc.) collected, created, received, maintained, or disseminated by government (Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subd. 7)
Entities Covered State agencies
- The University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
- Political subdivisions
- Statewide systems (record-keeping systems used in common by multiple state agencies and/or political subdivisions)
- Corporations and nonprofit social service agencies under contract with a government entity (Minn. Stat. §§ 13.02, subd. 7; 13.05, subd. 6)
- Judicial branch data classifications and access are governed by the rules of public access to records of the judicial branch, adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court (Minn. Stat. § 13.90)
- For purposes of this act, townships located outside of the seven-county metro area are not included in the definition of “political subdivision” (Minn. Stat. § 13.02, subd. 11)
- The legislature as a whole is not subject to the act, but individual legislators are subject to certain provisions governing elected officials and candidates for elected office
Minnesota Social Media Records Policy in Practice
Numerous cities and counties already have policies in place that clearly state that social media records in Minnesota are governed by the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The following are just a few examples of many:
View Carver policy
Excerpt from the Carver County Social Media policy:
Please note that Carver County does not share information gathered through its social media sites with third parties for promotional purposes. However, any information you provide to the County is subject to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. This law classifies certain information as available to the public on request.
Chisago County’s policy very clearly states the public records retention requirements for social media records in Minnesota:
View Chisago policy
Excerpt from the Chisago County Social Media Policy:
H. Chisago County’s social media sites are subject to State of Minnesota public records laws. Any content maintained in a social media format that is related to County business, including a list of subscribers and posted communication, is a public record and subject to a data retention schedule.
Social Media Record Retention Legal News in Minnesota
Read about Minnesota cases and precedents involving social media and public record retention.
Minnesota city pays settlement and legal fees to a citizen for limiting access to public records and violating First Amendment rights by blocking on social media
The Chaska Police Department blocked a citizen on Facebook and Twitter for posting comments critical of the department and its chief. After raising a lawsuit, the citizen received a settlement of $1,005 from the city, and the city paid the plaintiff’s legal fees.
Source: StarTribune, “Chaska ordered to allow Waconia man to access its social media accounts”, May 2019
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