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e. Social media and online discussion boards

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  • Alaska

    There do not appear to be any cases or authorities addressing social media and online discussion boards as meetings at this time, and in general, the same considerations set forth in § I.D.3.b of this Open Meetings Guide concerning e-mails should be applicable.

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  • Arizona

    The same reasoning that applies to email communications in Section I(D)(3)(b) above would apply to social media and online discussion boards as well.

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  • Arkansas

    There is no statutory or case law concerning social media and online discussion boards, specifically, but the Attorney General has opined that sequential electronic discussions could be considered meetings under the FOIA. Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 2008-055. Public access to such meetings could be gained by logging onto the computer network. Id.

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  • California

    Use of social media and online discussion boards by a majority of a state or legislative body, either directly or through intermediaries, “to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter” of the state or legislative body would violate both the Bagley-Keene Act and the Brown Act.  See Cal. Gov’t Code § 11122.5(b)(2);Cal. Gov't Code § 54952.2(b).

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  • Colorado

    Yes. "Meeting" means any kind of gathering, convened to discuss public business, in person, by telephone, electronically, or by other means of communication. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-6-402(1)(b).

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  • Connecticut

    There are also no reported court decisions on this issue.

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  • Delaware

    Not addressed by the Act.

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  • District of Columbia

    Although the Open Meetings Act does not specifically address meetings conducted by social media or online discussion boards, it applies to meetings held by any "means of communication."  D.C. Code Ann. § 2-574(1).  This catch-all category may include social media and online discussion boards, especially when read in light of the instruction to construe the Act broadly to maximize public access to meetings.  Id. § 2-573.  No reported case in the District of Columbia has considered whether social media and online discussion boards are sufficiently analogous to e-mails to come within the statute's exemption for e-mail exchanges.

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  • Georgia

    The Act does not authorize agencies to meet by social media or online discussion board.

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  • Hawaii

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • Illinois

    The Act explicitly includes instant messaging within the definition of a “meeting.” A meeting is “any gathering, whether in person or … electronic means (such as, without limitation, electronic mail, electronic chat, and instant messaging), or other means of contemporaneous interactive communication, of a majority of a quorum of the members of a public body held for the purpose of discussing public business.” 5 ILCS 120/1.02 (emphasis added). Put differently, an instant message qualifies as a meeting if (1) there is quorum; (2) of a public body; (3) held for the purposes of discussing public business. Id.

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  • Indiana

    The Act does not address social media and online discussion boards. But the Indiana Public Counselor Handbook addresses the question of whether email exchanges are meetings, and a similar analysis could apply social media and online discussion boards: “[w]hether an email exchange is considered a meeting is largely dependent upon the nature and intent of the communication. If the governing body is trying to communicate simultaneously and expecting an immediate call-and-response type dialogue for the purpose of taking official action on business, the exchange constitutes a meeting.” The Handbook is available at the following link: https://www.in.gov/pac/files/PAC%20Handbook%202017.pdf.

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  • Iowa

    Not unless the system would permit "a gathering."

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  • Kansas

    Interactive communication, for the purposes of KOMA, requires a mutual or reciprocal exchange between or among members of a body or agency subject to KOMA. Kan. Att’y Gen. Op. 2009-22.

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  • Kentucky

    The Open Meetings Act does not address social media or online discussion boards and does not permit meetings to be conducted by social media or discussion board. See Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.810(2).

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  • Louisiana

    No specific provision, but “meeting” is defined as “the convening of a quorum of a public body,” so use of social media or online discussion boards could be subject to the Open Meetings law only if the people doing so constituted a quorum of the public body.”

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  • Maine

    There are no Maine decisions on whether the use of social media and online discussion boards constitute a meeting, but the purpose of the public meetings law is broad and would prevent the use of electronic means to hold meetings.  “It is further the intent of the Legislature that clandestine meetings, conferences or meetings held on private property without proper notice and ample opportunity for attendance by the public not be used to defeat the purposes of this subchapter.”  1 M.R.S.A. § 401. The same logic applicable to e-mail applies to social media and online discussion boards.

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  • Maryland

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue. But see OMA Manual, at 1-10 (discussing the participation of a quorum in near-simultaneous electronic communications); 9 OMCB Opinions 259, 265 (2015) (discussing likely treatment of electronic communications by the courts and the factors to be considered).

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  • Michigan

    Not addressed by the law.

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  • Montana

    Since electronic discussion during the convening of a quorum of a public body constitutes a meeting, it is prohibited unless the public has contemporaneous access to the on line discussion.

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  • Nebraska

    There is no law on point.

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  • Nevada

    Social media messages that are used by a quorum of the members of a public body to deliberate towards a decision or that are used to poll members of a public body are likely covered by the law. The OML does not define or distinguish regular meetings, except as opposed to an emergency meeting.

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  • New Hampshire

    No. See RSA 91-A:2,III.

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  • New Jersey

    Any "gathering" by means of electronic equipment which is open to all members of the public body is subject to the provisions of OPMA if conducted with the intent to discuss public business.

    See (a).

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  • New Mexico

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.  New Mexico courts and statutes do not have a definition of what constitutes a meeting.

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  • North Carolina

    Not addressed by statute.

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  • North Dakota

    There is no case or statutory law specifically addressing this issue, but simultaneous communication between a quorum of a governing body through nontraditional means has been considered a meeting subject to the open meetings law. See N.D. Op. Att’y Gen. 2007-O-14 (2007).

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  • Ohio

    The Supreme Court of Ohio has stated, “R.C. 121.22 prohibits any private prearranged discussion of public business by a majority of the members of a public body regardless of whether the discussion occurs face to face, telephonically, by video conference, or electronically by e-mail, text, tweet, or other form of communication.” White v. King, 147 Ohio St. 3d 74, 78, 60 N.E.3d 1234, 1238, 2016-Ohio-2770, ¶ 15.

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  • Oklahoma

    No electronic or telephonic communications, except for videoconferences specifically allowed in 25 O.S. § 307.1, among a majority of the members of a public body shall be used to decide any action or take any vote. 25 O.S. § 306.

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  • Oregon

    The statute does not specifically address social media or online discussion boards. However, if a quorum of a governing body is using social media or online discussion boards for a decision or using social media or online discussion boards to deliberate toward a decision, the Public Meetings Law applies. Notice and an opportunity for the public to “listen” and “attend” would be required. ORS 192.670(2).

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  • Rhode Island

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • Tennessee

    Only if such communications meet the requirements for email, as stated above.

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  • Texas

    In an interim report to the 82nd Legislature in 2010, the Senate Committee on State Affairs addressed challenges in applying the Act presented by new technologies, noting: “under the current interpretations of the Act, a quorum would exist if a majority of the governmental body discusses public business on a Facebook Wall . . . A similar situation could arise with Twitter where members can have public or private accounts.” Senate Committee on State Affairs, Interim Report to the 82nd Legislature at 59 (2010).

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  • Utah

    Social media and online discussion boards may qualify as an “electronic meeting” that is “convened or conducted by means of a conference using electronic communications.” See Utah Code § 52-4-103(4)-(5).

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  • Vermont

    The Open Meeting Law excludes from the definition of meeting “any communication, including in person or through e-mail, telephone, or teleconferencing, between members of a public body for the purpose of scheduling a meeting, organizing an agenda, or distributing materials to discuss at a meeting, provided that: (i) no other business of the public body is discussed or conducted; and (ii) such a communication that results in written or recorded information shall be available for inspection and copying under the Public Records Act.”  1 V.S.A. § 310(3)(B).

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  • Virginia

    “No meeting shall be conducted through telephonic, video, electronic or other electronic communication means where the members are not physically assembled to discuss or transact public business, except as provided in § 2.2–3708.2 or as may be specifically provided in Title 54.1 for the summary suspension of professional licenses.” Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3707.B.  All public bodies may conduct any meeting wherein the public business is discussed or transacted through electronic communication means under certain circumstances and if certain procedures are followed. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3708.2.A.  “Electronic communication” means the use of technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, or similar capabilities to transmit or receive information. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3701.  Except in emergencies, a quorum of the public body’s members must be physically assembled at a single location.  See the Act for additional circumstances and procedures for meetings by electronic communication of regional public bodies and state public bodies. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3708.2.B. and D.

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  • Washington

    There is no authority addressing this issue.

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  • West Virginia

    There have been no reported meetings conducted using social media or online discussion boards.

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