Software that allows the city of Dripping Springs to archive posts on its own social media pages was given the green light April 17.
Archive Social, a program that allows entities to archive social media posts, even if those posts have been deleted, will allow Dripping Springs to monitor its six city Facebook pages and two Twitter pages. However, the program will not collect data from pages that are not managed or owned by the city.
This will allow the city to not only archive posts for open records, but to archive any citizen comments or concerns, according to city staff.
By state law, cities are required to provide its citizens access to public records and information, and the laws are enforced by the Attorney General’s office. This includes physical and digital copies of any legislation, meetings, citizen comments, development plans and other city records.
“This year alone we have had around four people ask, through an open records request, for social media posts on the city’s pages,” said Andrea Cunningham, city secretary for the city of Dripping Springs. “This allows us to archive that information and stay on top of our duty to be transparent for our citizens.”
But in light of security concerns stemming from data breaches, a national disconnect between elected officials and social media corporations still looms.
At the council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds asked city staff if this program is typical for a city with a population the size of Dripping Springs.
According to city staff, the software is typically used for cities with larger populations but justified the use of Archive Social as the Dripping Springs community is active on social media.
Archive Social currently works with two of the biggest cities in the state.
In Austin, Archive Social is used to help the Austin Police Department manage social media to see where the risks are happening in real time, allowing the force to see and monitor social media for any potential issues that may involve law enforcement.
In Dallas, the city is using the software to make most of its data available through “Dallas Data Points”, which, according to Archive Social, is a dashboard that provides visibility into the city’s progress in public safety, economic vibrancy, a clean environment, culture and e-government.
Cunningham said the city will not release private information from requests such as addresses, medical information or names.
Social media pages not owned by the city, such as community forums, will not be subject to this new program.
The subscription to Archive Social will cost $200 a month, which is already accounted for in this year’s budget until the fiscal year ends in September.
The subscription will start on May 1 and will allow the city to archive 1,000 new records per month.
The city of Dripping Springs will budget money for Archive Social for the upcoming fiscal year. Based on the success of the program, the council will vote in favor of or against budgeting the software for the upcoming year.
“Before Archive Social, we were taking pictures of posts on our pages and saving them as JPEGs and putting them in a file,” Cunningham said. “This was problematic because sometimes we miss something or people can go back and delete their comments from our pages.”