Social Media Apps, Direct Messaging, and Public Records


Endgadget posted and article in November about Twitter’s direct messaging application and being allowed to direct message anyone in

Twitter.  Social media allows interactions among users, sometimes positive, sometimes not. Direct messaging is a tool that allows people to directly contact another person within the application and it is only visible to the receiving party. In North Carolina, social media content is a public record as defined by G.S. §132. The Department of Cultural Resources actively collects and makes accessible social media content of state agencies through its webarchiving program, . However, it can be a difficult endeavor as social media applications change frequently.

Direct messaging can be particularly challenging for your office to manage and for the Department of Cultural Resources to collect. The Best Practices for State Agency Social Media Usage in North Carolina  guidance document clearly delineates what is a public record and how agencies should approach their use of social media. When the policy was being drafted, there was much discussion of social media direct messages and how we could give advice to agencies that they could practically use. Regarding direct messaging specifically, the advice given to agencies state that directed messages are similar to correspondence and email and should be treated as such. When responding, administrators should direct the person who sent the email to contact them via their state issue email account.

We encourage state agencies and citizens to review the document to see how the sites and the records should be handled. If you are an account administrator, we encourage you tweet or post out to citizens that the best way to reach them and receive feedback is through a public email account. Occasionally doing this and putting it in your “about me” or profile page will hopefully correct miscom
munications or misunderstandings that might occur.


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