Did you “like” the City of Meadville’s recent Facebook post announcing the upcoming leaf pick-up schedule?
Did you react with a smiley face or a heart when the city posted that trick-or-treating would be held on Oct. 31 this year?
Have you ever logged on to the official City of Meadville, PA — Office of the City Manager page to comment on your frustrations regarding parking, taxes or other municipal goings-on?
Rest assured your likes, emoticons and comments will be preserved in perpetuity for historical purposes — and in order to comply with the state’s open records laws.
Meadville City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a contract with ArchiveSocial Inc., a South Carolina-based company that specializes in preserving social media activity for government entities.
The ArchiveSocial service makes a live record of changes to the city’s Facebook page. If a comment is edited, both the original and the edited version are preserved, according to City Manager Andy Walker. Deleted posts, comments and reactions will be preserved from now on as well.
Previously, Walker said, the city had not been archiving such information and relied on the Facebook page itself for a record of comments, but those could be deleted or changed by users at any time. Thus, the city would have had difficulty complying with any open records request involving its social media presence.
Requests for past Facebook postings and the resulting comments and reactions may not sound significant — and Deputy City Clerk Katie Wickert said she could not recall ever having received any — but they could prove costly if the city were unable to comply. Wickert said that penalties imposed on other government bodies in the state that were unable to comply with such requests have ranged from $10,000 to more than $70,000 and have averaged about $30,000.
The archiving service costs $2,388 per year. The service covers up to 10 social media accounts. The city’s social media presence is currently limited to only its Facebook page.
City staff was hard-pressed to recall any memorable contributions to the municipal Facebook page.
GIS technician Bennett Gould, who helps manage the city’s information technology systems, said, “I can recall some, but they may not be appropriate for a family newspaper.”
Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.