In Pennsylvania, are Government Officials’ Personal Social Media Posts Public Records?

A recent court decision raised the bar for when a government official’s personal social media posts are public records, and will likely make it more burdensome and costly for Pennsylvanians to get their hands on this information.

In an April opinion, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court established a three-factor test to judge when social media posts made on public officials’ personal accounts should be accessible under the Right-to-Know Law.

Government agencies, the Office of Open Records, and the courts have the power to decide what records should be provided to the public. The test guides them to first examine the social media account in question, including its private or public status, its appearance or purpose, and any actual or apparent duty for public officials to operate it.