Government Law

Former mayor's old Facebook page should be reopened, says judge, because it may have public info

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The Facebook page of a former mayor is public record, says a New Mexico court. Now she needs to figure out how to reactivate the account, which has been shut down.

“Hopefully everything is still there,” Stephen Thies, the Alamogordo City attorney, told the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The city previously denied an individual’s request to examine the Facebook page set up by Susie Galea, who resigned as Alamogordo’s mayor in December 2015, the Alamogordo Daily News reported. The social media account was not created for the city, lawyers argued, so it was not public record.

Until the account is reactivated, 12th Judicial District Judge Jerry H. Ritter Jr. wrote in a ruling published last week, there’s no way to know if it includes public material as well as private.

Susan Boe, executive director of New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that this question has come up before, but the information requests usually involve Twitter or text messages.

“The Inspection of Public Records Act was passed in the early 90s and social media wasn’t on anyone’s radar,” she said. “But the definition of public records in the act is broad enough to encompass social media and that would include Facebook pages and other social media.”

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