Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in

Oregon Public Records Law and Social Media

The Oregon Public Records Law requires that government agencies preserve public records regardless of physical form, including electronic records. It also applies this requirement to every public office, officer, official, and institution.

Social Media Records Guidelines from the Oregon Secretary of State

The Oregon Secretary of State, State Archives division offers online training that interprets the 2011 changes to Oregon Public Records Law and their impact on social media records in Oregon. These changes were intended “to create a definition that can deal with a technology such as social media and any new technologies that are developed down the road.”

In addition, the State E-governance Board states, “Like other forms of communication, social media posts can be considered public records, and therefore subject to public record retention and inspection rules. Social media agencies should be prepared to retain content and decide how to moderate comments that appear on their accounts.”

Oregon Social Media Records Management in Practice

The City of Portland offers a great example of a comprehensive social media policy that explicitly identifies social media content as a public record and provides guidance on retention. The policy states, “bureaus must assume that content posted or received using any Social Media technology is a public record and manage it accordingly.”

Oregon House Bill 3723 A

In 2021, House Bill 3723 A was approved and passed by the Oregon House. The bill limits the scope in which institutions, including law enforcement agencies, can publish or release booking photos; often referred to as “mugshots.” HB 3723 A states that these photos may only be shared with other law enforcement agencies, or released for the purpose of locating a fugitive or suspect. The bill also explains rules for removing booking photos from publish-for-pay sites and gives citizens the right to request their photos be removed from these sites.

Public records concerns can arise when law enforcement agencies remove these photos from social media sites, or post them by mistake in the future. Without proper social media record keeping, like archiving, these agencies can easily run afoul with the Oregon Public Records Act while trying to maintain HB 3723 A compliance.


How Social Media Archiving Works

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