Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in
New York

New York Public Records Law

Social media records in New York are governed by the New York Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) which requires the government to be “responsive and responsible to the public.” The law defines a record as “any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with or for an agency or the state legislature, in any physical form whatsoever.”

Guidance from the New York State Archives on Managing Social Media Records

In Collaboration with the University of the State of New York and the State Education Department

The New York State Archives released guidance on how to manage social media records in New York. The guidance states that for government entities, “identifying and applying the appropriate retention periods to social media records is a critical step in managing them.” The report includes information regarding agencies’ retention requirements as well as additional resources that highlight best practices.

New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Offers Social Media Ethics Guidelines for Attorneys

The NYSBA has offered guidance on social media in response to attorneys’ need to be attuned to the particular ethical responsibilities posed by social media. Regarding social media records in New York state they advise, “if an attorney utilizes social media to communicate with a client relating to legal representation, the attorney should retain records of those communications, just as she would if the communications were memorialized on paper.”

New York Social Media Records Policy in Practice

New York State has created a social media policy to assist social media communication between New York State government and the public. It identifies social media posts and communications as public record in New York and discloses that those records may be treated as public information. A policy like can help New York agencies operate in compliance with the New York Freedom of Information Law.


How Social Media Archiving Works

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