The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) governs social media records in Utah, classifying them as records that are prepared, owned, received, or retained by a governmental entity or political subdivision. GRAMA defines records broadly, including materials in any physical form or characteristics, such as a book, letter, document, electronic data, and more.
Current as of May 2015, :(22) (a) “Record” means a book, letter, document, paper, map, plan, photograph, film, card, tape, recording, electronic data, or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics:
(i) that is prepared, owned, received, or retained by a governmental entity or political subdivision; and
(ii) where all of the information in the original is reproducible by photocopy or other mechanical or electronic means
In 2011, the Utah State Archives and Records Service released guidance for local governments and state agencies on the use and management of social media. The guidelines explicitly state that social media records in Utah are subject to GRAMA, the Government Records Access and Management Act.
Under Utah law, a record is defined as “material regardless of physical form or characteristics…where all of the information in the original is reproducible” (Utah Code 63G-2-103(22)). Therefore, content on a social media site that pertains to transactions of government business is considered a record and must be managed according to the law.
The guidelines also identify the potential risks associated with social media and suggest record retention as a means of mitigating these risks. However, it should be noted that these guidelines were developed prior to the availability of effective social media archiving solutions. Today, there are options available to agencies seeking to use social media while remaining compliant with Utah law.
The City of Ogden is a good example of a local government that has implemented a policy acknowledging that social media records in Utah are governed by GRAMA. Their policy is accessible on their Facebook page, and it clearly states that the information on their page may be considered public record.
This is Ogden City’s Official Facebook page. The purpose of the Ogden City Government Facebook page is to serve as a mechanism for communication between Ogden City government and members of the public. For more information about Ogden City government, please visit www.ogdencity.com. All content created or posted on Ogden City’s Facebook page belongs to the city and may be considered a public record. The city reserves the right to restrict or remove any content that is deemed to be in violation of Ogden City’s social media policy or any applicable law.