Public Records in a Box

On Facebook, both seasoned users and newbies may struggle with what to put in the little box below the profile picture that says "Write ...
by | January 5, 2010
 

On Facebook, both seasoned users and newbies may struggle with what to put in the little box below the profile picture that says "Write something here."

Many try to put something pithy, funny or thought-provoking in that box. Governments that use Facebook could have another use for it -- to advise you that public record laws may apply to anything you post on that page.

While working on a recent story on the challenges governments face when using social media, I learned that a common question officials faced is if those accounts are subject to public records laws, and how those should be archived. (My colleague Andy Opsahl at Government Technology has a good column today on questions regarding social media archives.) An advisory opinion that Florida's Attorney General Bill McCollum gave to Coral Springs, Florida addresses public records questions in broad terms. He advised the city to alert users that information posted on the Facebook page may be subject to public records laws. You can see that Coral Springs posted the notice -- in that little boxy thingy underneath the profile picture:

Coralsprings

While browsing through North Carolina's recently released social media guidelines and best practices, I noticed that it suggests putting a public records notice in that space, too. (This screen shot was taken from the state's social media tutorial. It has tons of super-helpful screenshots for agencies currently or soon-to-be on social media platforms):

Northcarolinasmslides

This may be mere coincidence that a handful of entities are starting to post warnings in that little box. Or maybe not. As more guidelines come out about social media and public records guidelines, that little box may become a bit more serious.

Story Behind the Story appears every Tuesday.

Tina Trenkner
Tina Trenkner  |  Deputy Editor, GOVERNING.com
ttrenkner@governing.com  |  @tinatrenkner

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