A government social media archive?
Sunday, 21st February 2010
Should there be an archive of government social media postings? With the ranks of central and local government tweeters growing, this is a question that countries around the world are looking at, as reported in a recent FutureGov article (http://digbig.com/5bbcrr).
National archives are already preserving government web data. The UK Government Web Archive (http://digbig.com/5bbcrq), for example, is a publicly available collection of UK central government websites. Maintained by the National Archive (TNA), the intention is to permanently preserve all content.
The programme began in 2003 but TNA entered into a contract with the Internet Archive to gain access to their back catalogue and harvested around 50 selected government web sites. This means that some sites date as far back as 1997.
But what about government social media? It has become fashionable for central and local government individuals and agencies to have a Facebook or Twitter account. Should tweets and status updates be stored for future record?
Researchers can search some government blogs via aggregators – with sources such as Barack OBlogger (http://www.barackoblogger.com). Whilst looking into social media as part of the “Big Two” review (http://digbig.com/5bbcrs), Nexis informed me it is in the process of bringing on stream Twitter feeds from key US government figures. Whilst useful, this is not intended as a comprehensive archive, so how are governments approaching the issue?
The FutureGove article gives examples from different countries. Victor Lam, the Assistant Government Chief Information Officer for the Government of Hong Kong explained that there are concrete policies and procedures in Hong Kong for information management, retention and archival which include the use of internet services by civil servants for official business – irrespective of the media and application.
In the US, government emails and voicemails are considered public records under the Freedom of Information Act, so archiving them is mandatory. But government officials have not yet decided whether social media postings should be archived too.
In many countries, policymakers have yet to make up their minds about whether and how to archive this material. It will be interesting to watch developments.
About this item:
Anne Jordan is a freelance business information researcher and consultant with over twenty years of professional experience. She became an independent practitioner after positions in business research and research management at various City of London-based financial services institutions and management consultancy firms, including Marakon Associates, Mitchell Madison Group, Lloyds of London and Goldman Sachs. She has worked in the UK and overseas, most recently managing the client relationship with an Indian-based research organisation.
Anne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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