Your social media policy - what about records?

Did you know that when you use social media in the course of your business you are generating a Commonwealth record? This social media communication is a record of your agency's business activities.

Your agency should have a Social Media Policy covering matters such as security, privacy and copyright in the use of social media. It should also include advice on how to manage your social media records. A social media policy will highlight considerations for the managing business information created using social media platforms.

Social media policies and protocols

There are certain policies and protocols that you need to be aware of if you chose to use social media as a communication tool for your agency’s business activities.

As a government employee using social media, you must be aware of the advice provided by:

The level of detail that your agency includes about information and records management responsibilities will vary, but at a minimum it should include contact details for your agency's records management unit and refer to your agency's information management policy.

Social media policy - what to include

Ideally a social media policy will include:

  • a reminder that using social media for agency business activities is generating a Commonwealth record
  • a definition of a social media record, for example: 'social media records can be defined as information which contains evidence of your agency’s business activities'.
  • the information and records management responsibilities of content creators, web administrators, ICT staff, communications staff and records management staff
  • a statement highlighting the importance of taking ownership for content and assigning responsibility for managing records
  • clearly defined information and records management requirements and protocols for collaborative social media sites which are hosted by one or more agencies
  • information and records management practices for social media, such as how records will be captured and how often
  • contact details for the agency or department's records management unit and a link to the records management policy for more assistance and advice.

Remember to update your agency's information management policy to include the management of social media records. The content of the two policies must complement one another and be linked to ensure they are updated and maintained together.

When planning the content of your agency's social media policy, we recommend that you:

  • include information management guidance for social media
  • involve information management staff in the development of the social media policy.

A sample social media policy statement is included below.

Sample social media policy statement

Staff need to create and manage accurate records of their business activities to ensure decisions and actions can be accounted for. This includes social media activities.

What should be captured?

Staff should ask themselves:

  • Does social media use in my agency produce evidence of my agency’s business activities?
  • Does information created in social media need to be captured into my agency’s records management system or other endorsed business system?
  • Is the information already captured. For example, was a final version developed, approved, captured in the records management system and later posted to the social media site, or does the information exist only on the social media site?
  • Who owns the content (especially where there are non-Commonwealth contributors) and what should be captured?

For further advice and assistance on your responsibilities to capture information, refer to [insert your agency’s information management policy].

How to capture

Methods of capturing social media content as a record may vary according to the tools being used. Contact the information management unit for specific advice.

Who is responsible – your own social media site

When setting up a social media site, or when using new social media, content creators should confirm processes, policies and information management roles and responsibilities with key business areas (such as web services, information management units and ICT) to ensure that business information is identified and managed properly.

The business owner who manages the content of the social media site will be responsible for capturing the information and records of business activities. For transitory, short-lived content it may be sufficient to rely on the web administrator’s back up of social media sites.

NOTE: Content hosted on a third party site, such as Facebook or Twitter, will not be captured by these back-ups. They will need to be captured separately in the agency's records management system, or other endorsed business system, if they are of business value.

Who is responsible – collaborative sites

If the collaborative site is not hosted by your agency, a strategy outlining information management responsibilities should be developed and made available on the site. The agency hosting the site would usually take responsibility for managing the site itself and keeping records of this – for example, audit logs, routine back-ups, ad ‘whole-of-site’ capture as needed. Contributors to the site should keep records of their own contributions.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017