Social Media Records Retention - The More You Know

Aug 06, 18

Laptop showing image of files
In days gone by, following records retention regulations was relatively simple. Your school district simply needed to determine which documents to save and which to shred. But in today’s tech-world, multi-faceted communications channels are available to us; and yes, these are incredibly powerful tools for engaging with our students, teachers, and communities, but they also pose a challenge.

The Washington Public Records Act requires that school districts preserve public records regardless of physical form, and this includes electronic records. Here are the details for electronic content:

Retention Scheduling and Disposition of Electronic Public Records (WAC 434-662-030)
  • Electronic records are bound by the same provisions as paper documents.
  • Electronic records must be retained pursuant to the retention schedules adopted by the records committees.
  • Destruction of, or changes to the retention period of, any public record, regardless of format, requires legal approval from the state or local records committee.
  • Public records that are designated "archival" by the state archivist must be maintained until such time as they are transferred to the state archives.

Web Site Management (WAC 434-662-140)

All state and local government agencies must retain all web content in accordance with the approved retention schedules.

Social media and website record retention can prove a momentous, even nightmarish task for districts, but don’t worry, there are resources to help you make sure you comply with these regulations.

So How Do You Tackle This Task?

When developing a strategy for your district, Washington’s Secretary of State recommends keeping five questions in mind:
  • Is the item a public record?
  • Is the item a primary or secondary copy?
  • If a public record, how long must it be retained?
  • If retained, how will the School District do so?
  • If this cannot be successfully accomplished, is this technology format appropriate?

The Washington State Archives Site has resources to help you create a social media retention policy for you district.

Get Help

There are a number of applications that collect the required record retention information for you. These include:
  • Archive Social - Social media archiving for government, education, and law enforcement.
  • Smarsh - Retain critical information in a single secure, search-ready repository where it can be actively monitored and produced on-demand.
  • PageFreezer - Easy-to-use web and social media archiving service for regulatory compliance, eDiscovery, and corporate heritage.

In Conclusion

Be prepared to treat each comment, post, photo, and list of individuals connected to a social networking site as an open record. Do not assume that social media platforms will keep accurate records of your content—they are under no obligation to do so.

In the end, the content of the record is what’s important, not the medium. There is a risk in using social media sites because you may not have sufficient control to ensure that posts are retained for the record’s full retention period. Make sure your social media records retention strategy takes this into account.

WSIPC is a non-profit cooperative that provides technology solutions (including Skyward), services, and support to K-12 schools. WSIPC’s purpose is to help schools do more with every dollar and to empower them with the tools to work smarter.