The state Public Records Law prohibits public officials from destroying or otherwise disposing of public records except in accordance with law or with the consent of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. These restrictions apply to records created on public officials’ personal devices for the purposes of transacting public business. Therefore, public officials are required to retain pertinent text messages and emails sent from their personal devices if they are subject to the public records law. Reliance on third-party platforms such as Zoom, Facebook and YouTube may expose public officials to legal liability if they do not take care to archive all records of public business where they can be easily accessed and retrieved. For example, YouTube deleted a video of a meeting of the Union County School Board that was streamed and posted to its platform because a member of the public made comments during the public comment period that violated YouTube’s policy about COVID-19 misinformation. Thankfully, the county appealed YouTube’s decision after reporters raised concerns. Because public records are defined by their content and not the platform through which they are created or transmitted, YouTube’s decision to delete the video could have raised a serious legal issue for the county. Anyone who unlawfully removes, destroys, alters or mutilates public records is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $10 to $500. The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is assigned to assist public officials in preparing inventories of records and to devise retention and disposal schedules.
 Ann Doss Helms & Steve Harrison, YouTube Deletes Union School Board Video Over Mask Comments, Then Reverses Itself, WFAE.org (May 31, 2021, 6:13 PM) (https://www.wfae.org/education/2021-05-13/youtube-deletes-union-school-board-video-when-mask-comments-are-deemed-harmful).
 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 132-3.
 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 132-8. For more information related to records retention and management, visit the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources website at https://www.ncdcr.gov/resources/records-management.