Until Time Travel is Available…


Time travel has always been dangled out there as a fantastic concept, but it never seemed to go just right. Intrepid explorers would wind up in the wrong century or their supposed ability to change history would have unforeseen consequences. Two of my favorite travelers were Mr. Peabody and Sherman. They used the Wayback Machine to visit other centuries and always came away with a good lesson.

Which brings us to social media and your ability to go back in time. Imagine that you were sitting quietly in your office, minding your own business when the superintendent called. “I need to see everything the district said about the sidewalk project back in April of 2012: brochures, TV ads, speeches I gave, emails I sent, and social media posts. And I need it by tomorrow morning . . . we’ve been included in a lawsuit!”

Yes, social media is considered public record in all states and your district will have to comply with open records requests for social media. In Oklahoma, the Open Records Act includes:

“‘Record’ means all documents, including, but not limited to, any book, paper, photograph, microfilm, data files created by or used with computer software, computer tape, disk, record, sound recording, film recording, video record or other material regardless of physical form or characteristic, . . .”

Unless you have your own Wayback Machine (or don’t mind spending hours scrolling back, back and further back in your feeds), you might want to start doing some research on the many tools and services that are available for archiving social media. Or check with Mr. Peabody and Sherman to see if you can hitch a ride with them.

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