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Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in
Montana

Montana Public Records Law and Social Media

Social media records in Montana are subject to the Montana Public Records Act (Montana Code Annotated, Title 2, Chapter 6). This law defines records as, “any paper, correspondence, form, book, photograph, microfilm, magnetic tape, computer storage media, map, drawing, or other document, including copies of the record required by law to be kept as part of the official record, regardless of physical form or characteristics…” This definition covers posts made by government entities on social media.

Montana Social Media Records Guidance from the Montana Operations Manual

The Montana Operations Manual (MOM) contains policies, procedures, and standards applicable to the operations of Montana state government. This online resource includes “Guidelines for Social Media Use” which recognizes the importance of social media to government and clearly states that, “[u]nder Montana law, public records include records in electronic form (§ 2-6-110, MCA). Therefore, communication to or from state personnel through Social Media is likely presumed to be a public record.”

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Montana Social Media Records Policy in Practice

Many cities and counties already have policies in place that clearly state that social media records in Montana are governed by the Montana Public Records Act. The City of Great Falls notes that, “like e-mail, posts to social media sites may constitute agency legal records.”

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