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Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in
Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law and Social Media

The Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law governs social media records in Pennsylvania. The Law requires that agencies retain records “regardless of physical form,” including “information stored or maintained electronically.” Under this definition, social media records do qualify as public records.

Specific Guidance from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records

The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records includes guidance on the Right-to-Know Law. The document states that all records are presumed to be public records and specifies that “e-mails can also be a form of public records.” This policy supports the requirement that social media records in Pennsylvania be retained as public records.

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Pennsylvania Social Media Records Management in Practice

The City of Philadelphia has a comprehensive social media use policy in place. Their policy governs the retention of social media records, stipulating that “all postings may be subject to the Pennsylvania Right to Know Act.” This policy provides a clear example of how social media records in Pennsylvania should be handled.

Social Media Record Retention Legal News in Pennsylvania

Read about Pennsylvania cases and precedents involving social media and public record retention.

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Pennsylvania Office of Open Records rules that social media is a public record in Pennsylvania

A resident submitted a records request to the Borough of Chambersburg for social media content deleted from the Mayor’s Facebook page related to a discussion over a mural. After appeals, the case escalated to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, which ruled that social media is a public record because the Mayor was conducting public business on his Facebook page.

Source: publicopinion.com, “Chambersburg council pursues Facebook for posts deleted by former mayor,” March 2018

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