Kentucky's Open Records Act governs social media records, and mandates that government agencies must manage and preserve all content that they have created, owned, used, or possess, regardless of physical form. Social media records in Kentucky are classified as public records under this definition, and must be retained accordingly.
The Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives has issued directives that elaborate on when social media records in Kentucky should be preserved. The guidelines specify that social media content is considered "public records" under the Kentucky Open Records Act's definition and must be managed in accordance with all pertinent laws and regulations.
Social Media as Public Records The Public Records Act (KRS 171.420-171.740) defines public records as, “…documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which are prepared, owned, used, in the possession of or retained by a public agency.” Social media content meets this definition and must be managed in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.
KRS 171.640 and 171.680 and Kentucky Administrative Regulations, Title 725, Chapter 1, Archives, place responsibility with each agency to manage public records created or received by that agency. Agencies should consult the General Schedule for State Agencies or the Local Government General Records Schedule along with their agency specific records retention schedule, to determine the appropriate retention period for records on social media sites.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government's Customer Use Policy for Social Media permits the removal of comments that violate their content policy, but it does not mandate the retention of records. Such incomplete policies may expose government entities to various risks, such as First Amendment lawsuits and other legal complications. While the Lexington Police Department references this policy for their department, they clarify on their Facebook page that content is "subject to public disclosure."
Commenting on an LFUCG Social Media Site
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government agencies share information, images and video with the public through external social media websites. Comments made by the public to these sites are reviewed and, while comments will not be edited by LFUCG personnel, a comment may be deleted if it violates the comment policy described here.
Long Description: The opinions expressed by visitors to this page do not reflect the opinions of the department. Comments will be monitored and the department reserves the right to remove obscenities, off-topic comments and personal attacks. Any content posted or submitted for posting is subject to public disclosure.
Excerpt from the Lexington Social Media Public Comment Policy:
LFUCG social media accounts are subject to the Kentucky Open Records Act. Any content maintained in a social media format that is related to LFUCG business, including a list of subscribers and posted communications, is a public record. Content posted or submitted for posting is subject to public disclosure under the Kentucky Open Records Act.