Social media records in New Jersey are considered public records and are governed by the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). The OPRA defines records broadly as any information stored or maintained electronically, including data processed or image processed documents, received by public agencies in the course of their official business. This means that social media content posted by public agencies and the comments they receive on those posts are subject to OPRA and should be managed accordingly.
Defines Government Record
“Government record” or “record” means any paper, written or printed book, document, drawing, map, plan, photograph, microfilm, data processed or image processed document, information stored or maintained electronically or by sound-recording or in a similar device, or any copy thereof, that has been made, maintained or kept on file in the course of his or its official business by any officer, commission, agency or authority of the State or of any political subdivision thereof, including sub-ordinate boards thereof, or that has been received in the course of his or its official business by any such officer, commission, agency, or authority of the State or of any political subdivision thereof, including subordinate boards thereof. The terms shall not include inter-agency or intra-agency advisory, consultative, or deliberative material.
Maintaining social media records in compliance with the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) in New Jersey is a topic of uncertainty for many municipalities. However, it is important to preserve records of comments removed from social media platforms due to posting policy violations. The Borough of Metuchen, NJ is an example of a municipality that has implemented a policy for retaining such records. According to their policy, any content removed in accordance with the guidelines will be preserved by the Borough Administrator or their designee, in accordance with the relevant Borough retention policy.
6. The Borough Administrator and/or his/her designee shall monitor Borough social media sites to ensure adherence to both this Social Media Policy and the interest and goals of the Borough. Metuchen has the right and will restrict or remove any content that is deemed in violation of this Social Media Policy or any applicable law. Any content removed based on these guidelines will be retained by the Borough Administrator and/or her/her designee pursuant to the applicable Borough retention policy, including the time, date and identity of the poster, when available.