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Victoria state government proposes social media as public records

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Victoria’s Public Records Office (PROV) flew this one mostly under the radar: it’s seeking comment on a policy covering the archiving of public employees’ use of social media.

The proposed Social Media Recordkeeping Policy would, however, only cover posts created as part of their business.

In this discussion paper, PROV notes that a public record is “any record” either created or received by public officers in the course of their duties.

This definition is important: it also means that members of the public using these channels to communicate with the public service would have their Tweets and posts archived as public records. This might seem obvious with a moment’s thought – letters and e-mails to departments are archived as well – but is probably not on the mind of individuals who decide to indulge in a game of “flame the department”.

Such communications could be discarded as irrelevant, the proposed policy states, and public servants will be spared the tedious business of trying to identify messages sent under pseudonyms: “agencies should not try to de-anonymise communications”, the policy notes.

Public servants with private blogs and Twitter accounts can rest easy, however: the proposed archival policy specifically excludes staffers’ private use of social media, which it says is “out of the scope of this policy”.

Given the growing volume of social media interactions, it would not surprise The Register to find that Social Media Public Archivist becomes a burgeoning job description in the public sector … ®

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