Seward County approves purchase to collect social media posts by govt. officials

The Seward County Commission took a step toward helping the county maintain its level of transparency Monday with the approval of a purchase.
Like many in today’s world, government entities are a part of the social media realm, and Seward County is no exception. The item passed by the commission, purchasing ArchiveSocial, which allows government to archive its social media posts, will now protect the county from legal action regarding posts on its Facebook page and other social media sites.
County Administrator April Warden, County Clerk Stacia Long and Elections Deputy Vanessa Reever were recently part of an educational event regarding ArchiveSocial, and Warden said as social media platforms are now considered public record, posts, even deleted ones, can be screen shotted and used against the person making the post.
“As a public entity, we are required by law to be able to reproduce that information if there is a public request for it, an open records request,” Warden said. “That is not something we are capable of doing without having some type of system in place that actually can go out and get what they call the metadata.”
Metadata is information in tweets and posts that goes beyond the content to include items such as the sender, timestamp and IP address.
Warden said social media is a good thing, and she believes through the county’s Facebook page, the entity is reaching more of its citizens than through other means.
“We’re better able to gauge them,” she said. “We’re getting a better feel for the information that people want to be included in different conversations, but it is like a physical document. We have to be able to fulfill those public record requests if we have those.”
As the county’s public information officer, Long said right now, in the event the county is involved in a court case, she is responsible for producing requested documents, and at this time, the only way to produce social media documents is through screen shots on a phone.

(Read more: Liberal Leader & Times)