EXAMINATION OF THE MANAGEMENT OF SOCIAL MEDIA RECORDS AT A FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCY
Maintaining and preserving records has long been regarded as essential to the functioning of federal government and to related open government initiatives in particular. However, the literature identifies specific technology and policy-related challenges of managing social media records. While there exists in the literature a limited examination regarding the management of social media content in the federal agencies, a close analysis is needed to identify how social media records are being managed in practice. As the nature of social media and electronic content are both rapidly evolving, it is important to ensure that current practice guidelines are applicable to new technology and continually re-aligned to policy as requirements and regulations change. In recent years, effective management of social media records has become relevant not only in terms of ongoing compliance but as an essential element of open government and transparency-related initiatives. Additionally, and perhaps even more important, all records management and archive practices, including social media preservation, serve a larger social function of maintaining and documenting our collective memory and experiences. This study provides an in-depth analysis of social media records management within a federal executive agency, utilizing a mixed-methods approach consisting of website review, document review, and follow-up interviews. This study presents theoretical as well as practical implications. On the theoretical level, the study contributes to records management theory, application of information models, and the definition of the record in the social media environment. On the practical level, this research provides recommendations to industry and federal agencies for the development of standards, guidance, and technologies for the management and preservation of social media records.