Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in

Mississippi Public Records Act and Social Media

The Mississippi Public Records Act governs the preservation of public records “in use, prepared, possessed, or retained” by any public body, “regardless of physical form or characteristics.” This regulation qualifies social media records in Mississippi as public records.

Guidance from the Mississippi Ethics Committee

In guidance from the Mississippi Ethics Committee, the Public Records Act governs public records that fit the following characteristics: “a ‘documentary material ‘used’ ‘in the conduct of’ some governmental function.” Under this broad interpretation, the document includes e-mail specifically as being qualified as a public record which suggests social media records in Mississippi can be considered public.

Mississippi Social Media Records Management in Practice

The City of Greenville’s social media policy provides guidelines for the appropriate use of social media networks. The policy reminds employees that “any information that is shared online instantly becomes permanent and public” due to the nature of the Internet. While this advice does not specifically address social media records in Mississippi as being public and subject to retention laws, it does address the public nature of the communication tool. Any partial social media policy not considering records retention requirements may leave a public agency at risk of legal headaches.


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