Social media becoming public record for political leaders

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – You may now have more access to what public leaders are doing on social media, according to a new ruling by the Office of Open Records.

The case started when someone filed a Right to Know request for Chambersburg Mayor Darren Brown’s Facebook material, including anything that was deleted. Due to this ruling, the borough is now ordered to turn all that over, but has the right to appeal the decision.

Office of Open Records Deputy Director Nathan Byerly says increasing social media transparency in our local government is important.

“It’s good public policy that we as citizens have access to those records so that we can make sure to keep them accountable and keep government as efficient and effective as it can be,” Byerly said.

The new ruling deems public business transacted through social media comments and messages can become public record.

“A decision like this should put people on alert, especially public officials,” Byerly said.

“It’s important for politicians, but everyday people as well. It’s probably one of the first times we’ve seen a decision like that across the country. I haven’t checked that 100 percent, but I can tell you it’s rare,” managing partner of Mutchler Lyons Law, Terry Mutchler, said

The now lawyer would know since she created and founded the Office of Open Records in 2008.

“In that time frame, we saw about 15,000 appeals. It’s catapulted and under the new executive director they’ve continued to take a very pro-open government approach,” Mutchler said.

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