When Tweets and Blog Posts Are Business Records

Lora Bentley
Slide Show

The Rise of Social Media in the Enterprise

Social networking looks like it's here to stay.

I'm pretty sure we've covered this, but the midterm elections provide a good reason to issue a general reminder. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and other social media posts by those in office in Washington do become part of the public record. They could also be included in the National Archives.


David Ferriero, the national archivist, made the point on election day with a tweet that read:

Is this tweet a record? How about my blog post?

Ferriero then pointed followers to his blog, AOTUS: Chief Collector. There, he outlined the questions those who work in federal agencies should ask to determine whether particular communications should be archived as an agency record.


He explained:

The National Archives and Records Administration Bulletin 2011-02 says that the "principles for analyzing, scheduling, and managing records are based on content and are independent of the medium..." The following questions are meant to help agencies determine record status:
  • Is the information unique and not available anywhere else?
  • Does it contain evidence of the agency's policies, business, mission, etc.?
  • Is this tool being used in relation to the agency's work?
  • Is use of the tool authorized by the agency?
  • Is there a business need for the information?

If the answer to any of the questions is yes, Ferriero says, the communication should be maintained as a record. So the tweet in which he first asked the question is considered a record. It is being used in relation to his work as the national archivist, and it provides a link to a blog post explaining agency policy.

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