Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in

Missouri Public Records Law and Social Media

Social media records in Missouri are governed by two different chapters in the Missouri Revised Statutes. In Chapter 109, Public and Business Records, records are defined as any, “document, book, paper, photograph, map, sound recording, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics.” This definition includes electronic records.

Chapter 610 of the Missouri Revised Statutes: Governmental Bodies and Records. As the Missouri Attorney General describes it, “Missouri’s Sunshine Law is the embodiment of Missouri’s commitment to openness in government.” He also notes that, “the Sunshine Law applies to all records, regardless of what form they are kept in, and to all meetings, regardless of the manner in which they are held.”

Guidelines from the Secretary of State on Social Media as Public Records

The Missouri Secretary of State has issued guidelines for social media that clearly indicate that content on social media sites may be considered public record, and that each agency using social media is responsible for keeping these records according to the appropriate retention schedules. The Secretary of State guidelines also indicate that agencies using social media cannot rely on the social networks to maintain records but are responsible for exporting or capturing social media records themselves.

Missouri Social Media Records Management in Practice

In 2018, the City of Kansas City, MO, adopted an official social media policy that applies to all City of Kansas City, MO, social media sites operated by departments or on behalf of the City. This policy outlines the usefulness of social media for city agencies, while also clearly stating that social media sites are subject to public records laws and retention laws in Kansas City and the State of Missouri.


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