Public Records Laws and Social Media Retention in
South Carolina Freedom of Information Act and Social Media
South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (SC FOIA) specifies that public records include all writings made by public bodies regardless of physical form.
View SC FOIA text
“Public record” includes all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentary materials regardless of physical form or characteristics prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body.
“Public body” means any department of the State, a majority of directors or their representatives of departments within the executive branch of state government as outlined in Section 1-30-10, any state board, commission, agency, and authority, any public or governmental body or political subdivision of the State, including counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, and special purpose districts, or any organization, corporation, or agency supported in whole or in part by public funds or expending public funds, including committees, subcommittees, advisory committees, and the like of any such body by whatever name known, and includes any quasi-governmental body of the State and its political subdivisions, including, without limitation, bodies such as the South Carolina Public Service Authority and the South Carolina State Ports Authority.
Social Media Records Guidelines from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History
The South Carolina Department of Archives and History offers guidance on electronic records retention that covers the application of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act. This valuable resource discusses the intent and application of the law in a very readable and accessible format. An excerpt addressing social media records in South Carolina is below, but the full guidelines can be found here: Electronic Records Retention.
See SC Electronic Records Retention Guidance
Excerpts and highlights:
Page 2 – “Why do I need to organize my electronic records?”
“It is the law. SC FOIA defines a public record and states ‘includes all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentary materials regardless of physical form or characteristics prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body’.”
Page 11 – Records that are ‘born digital’ require the same organization and retention as physical records or records that were ‘born physical’ and then digitized.
Page 15 – Social media is viewed in the same light as email. Facebook and Twitter are platforms, not records management areas. If public records are produced on those platforms, they will have retention requirements.
Page 21 – “What retention schedule best describes agency social media accounts?”
South Carolina Social Media Records Management in Practice
The City of Greenville informs users of their Facebook page that comments may be deleted for reasons clearly outlined by the city. Although not explicitly outlined in the policy, retaining records of deleted posts is advisable to protect the municipality from accusations of First Amendment violations that may arise when comments are deleted.
View Greenville's Social Media Policy
We welcome your comments on the City of Greenville’s Facebook Pages, Twitter account and other social media outlets.
The purpose of these sites is to present matters of public interest in Greenville to our many residents, businesses and visitors. Here you’ll find the latest City news, including City-related special events, programs and services. We encourage you to submit your questions, comments, and concerns, but please note this is a moderated online discussion site and not a public forum.
Once posted, the City reserves the right to delete submissions that contain vulgar language, personal attacks, or disparaging comments of any kind, or offensive comments that target or disparage any ethnic, racial, or religious group. Further, the City also reserves the right to delete comments that are:
- spam or include links to other sites;
- clearly off topic;
- advocate illegal activity;
- promote particular services, products, or political organizations;
- infringe on copyrights or trademarks;
- use personally identifiable medical information; We recommend you not share any of your medical information on our Facebook Pages, Twitter Feeds or other social media outlets.
Please note that the comments expressed on this site do not reflect the opinions and position of the Greenville city government or its council members and employees. If you have any questions concerning the operation of this online moderated discussion site, please contact the Public Information and Events Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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