Social media is a broad term that incorporates various web based technologies such as blogging, video sharing, wikis, social networks, and photo libraries. Most state agencies operate one or more social media accounts which has added another dimension to records management.
Social media provides another avenue for agencies to engage with the public and to collaborate internally. One of the challenges presented by social media is the identification of a record. An entry on a social media site might not always constitute a record. The following should be considered when trying to determine if an entry on a social media site is a record:
Does the social media content contain information or evidence concerning an agency’s mission or policies?
Is the information unique or available elsewhere?
Does the social media content contain evidence of official agency business?
Does it document a controversial issue?
Does it document a program or project that involves prominent people, places or an event?
If the answer to one or more of the above questions is yes, then the social media entry is a record. Unless the content created in social media denotes a new record series, social media records will most likely fit in the characterization of an existing record series such as press releases. If the social media records indeed represent a new records series, the RRS should be updated to reflect the new series. URLs for sites or for feeds can be included in the remarks column of the records retention schedule. The State Archives will then have the opportunity to flag any appropriate social media for eventual transfer to the Archives. If social media records are flagged for archival values, the State Archives request that the state agency preserve and then transfer files at the end of the retention period. If social media records are not flagged for transfer to the State Archives, the agency can then destroy social media records upon the end of their retention period.
If, in fact, a social media entry is considered a record that must adhere to a retention schedule, the issue of how to capture the record arises. Social media records may prove a little more complex than traditional electronic records given their ability to allow enhancement with additional comments, metadata, or other information. A plan to export records from a social media site to a record keeping system is important and should be created in collaboration with an agency’s IT department. There are web crawling tools and software to capture social media entries but these may prove cost prohibitive for an agency. Storing the original content, such as a video, elsewhere beyond the social media site may suffice for ensuring retention of a record. An agency could also keep a file of blogs and social media entries, which would at least ensure that the original content would be retained.