In Oklahoma, the Open Records Act defines public records as any form of writing created by public agencies, regardless of physical form, which includes electronic records such as social media content.
1. “Record” means all documents, including, but not limited to, any book, paper, photograph, microfilm, data files created by or used with computer software, computer tape, disk, record, sound recording, film recording, video record or other material regardless of physical form or characteristic, created by, received by, under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control or possession of public officials, public bodies, or their representatives in connection with the transaction of public business, the expenditure of public funds or the administering of public property.
The Office of Management and Enterprise Services in Oklahoma has published a set of guidelines titled "Social Networking and Social Media Policy and Standards" for government agencies operating in the state. These guidelines explicitly state that social media records are public records and subject to retention requirements under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
Open Records Act
All content, comments and replies posted on any state agency social media, Web 2.0 or social networking technology are subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Information disseminated using these technologies is subject to being re-printed in newspapers, magazines or online in any other web or web media format.
Social computing content created or received by state agency personnel – whether during work hours or on personal time, and regardless of whether the communication device is publicly or privately owned – may meet the definition of a record as defined by State statute, when the content is made or received in connection with the transaction of the official business of the agency [67 O.S., §203(a)] and should be retained as required.
One example of effective social media records management in Oklahoma is the City of Broken Arrow comprehensive social media policy, which specifically applies the Open Records Act to social media records.
The social media policy states that all content, comments, and replies posted on their social media platforms are subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Additionally, employees are prohibited from engaging in viewpoint discrimination, which includes deleting posts, comments, or links with opposing viewpoints, and blocking individuals with opposing viewpoints from viewing or posting to the City's social media account.
“All content, comments and replies posted on all City of Broken Arrow social media, Web 2.0 or social networking technology are subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act.”
“Employees using social media or social networking networks for work purposes shall not engage in any viewpoint discrimination; such prohibition includes inter alia a prohibition on deleting posts/comments/links with opposing viewpoints and blocking individuals with opposing viewpoints from viewing or posting to the City’s social media account.”