In North Carolina, the Public Records Law mandates that public agencies must retain public records in all formats, including digital records produced through social media. This requirement extends to all public offices, officials, and institutions that create social media records in the state.
§ 1321. “Public records” defined
(a) “Public record” or “public records” shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic dataprocessing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions. Agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions shall mean and include every public office, public officer or official (State or local, elected or appointed), institution, board, commission, bureau, council, department, authority or other unit of government of the State or of any county, unit, special district or other political subdivision of government.
In 2012, the Office of the Governor of North Carolina released the "Best Practices for Social Media Usage in North Carolina" guidelines, which outline that both posts created by officials and comments made by the public on social media platforms are to be treated as public records.
Posts and Comments Are Public Records:
Like e-mail, communication via agency-related social networking Web sites is a public record. This means that both the posts of the employee administrator and any feedback by other employees or non-employees, including citizens, will become part of the public record.
North Carolina has become the first state in the nation to offer open access to an Archive of its social media content, free of charge to the public. To access and search the North Carolina archive follow this link.
The City of Raleigh has set an excellent precedent by implementing a comprehensive social media policy that effectively communicates the implications of the NC Public Records Law on social media records. The city has incorporated a notice, similar to the following message, on each social media account page managed by the city to inform users that their comments will be considered a part of the public record.
The City of Raleigh uses social media to interact with residents, businesses and visitors about public issues. Please submit your questions, comments and concerns. Please note this is a moderated online discussion site and subject to North Carolina Public Records Laws, and e-discovery laws and policies.