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Social Networking Guide | Public Records
Public Records and Moderation

Like other forms of communication, social media posts are public records. That means they require you to retain them. They are also covered by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Oregon Constitution. Agencies that use social media must understand that they will need to retain content and decide whether to moderate comments that appear on their sites.
Launching any type of social media involves the following categories of information:
  • Public Records
  • Public Meetings
  • Content Moderation
Public Records

  • Be aware that content posted on social media sites may become the property of the vendor.
  • Work with your records retention staff to determine whether the social media material is an official public record and whether it requires retention. The safest alternative is to avoid posting original records. Make sure you only post content that you retain somewhere else (i.e., press releases or articles that have appeared in a newsletter on your website).
  • There are three criteria for public records noted in ORS 192.005 (5) “Public Record”:
    Any information that:
    1. Is prepared, owned, used or retained by a state agency or political subdivision;
    2. Relates to an activity, transaction or function of a state agency or political subdivision; and
    3. Is necessary to satisfy the fiscal, legal, administrative or historical policies, requirements or needs of the state agency or political subdivision.
  • To learn more about the national standards for public record retention, click here (requires purchase).
  • To view the "Using Social Media in Organizations" technical report, click here (requires purchase).
  • Comments posted on your site also require retention.
Public Meetings

  • Members of boards or other governing bodies should exercise caution when using social media tools. Simultaneous texting or tweeting among board members may constitute a public meeting.
  • Refer to the public meetings manual for more guidance:
Moderating Content

  • Post a comment policy statement, such as: "The state does not endorse the opinions expressed on this site." (See draft policy, below.) Do not enable comments without a comment policy.
  • Removing or not posting comments may be illegal under the First Amendment and/or the Oregon Constitution. Understand the risks before removing any content.
  • Refer to the State Guidelines for Social Networking Media for tips on mitigating negative comments.
  • If your agency is uncomfortable with the responsibility to moderate posting, you may wish to consider disallowing the posting of comments altogether. keep in mind, however, this is not a recommended best practice for conducting social media outreach. We recommend each agency evaluate its ability to moderate content (i.e., time allowance, good judgment, etc.) when making this decision.
Terms of use and Moderation Policy

Agencies may wish to publish the following (or modified) terms of use and moderation policy on their social media pages. 

State of Oregon agency content and comments containing any of the following forms of information should not contain:
  • Comments not topically related to the particular content
  • Profane language or tone
  • Harassing language or tone
  • Content that promotes, fosters or perpetuates discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation
  • Sexual content or links to sexual content
  • Solicitations of commerce
  • Conduct or encouragement of illegal activity
  • Information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems
  • Content that violates a legal ownership interest of any other party
  • Promotion or opposition of any person campaigning for election to a political office, or promoting or opposing any ballot proposition unless specifically authorized by the agency director
  • Disclosure of information that an agency and its employees must keep confidential by law or administrative rule
Content or comments of this nature found on a state agency's social media site will be edited, revised or removed from the site. Only comments that comply with this standard will receive approval by state agency staff for posting.
Communications made through social media will in no way constitute a legal or official notice to the state of Oregon or its agencies or any official or employee of the state of Oregon for any purpose.
Use of this website constitutes acceptance of this policy. Any information posted here is public information and may be subject to monitoring, moderation or disclosure to third parties.