Are you sure the agency Facebook, YouTube or Twitter account you follow is legit? How do you know it’s an official government account?
Before now, you couldn’t. But now through the efforts of the General Services Administration’s new Social Media Registry you can.
The governmentwide Social Media Registry database serves two purposes:
Second, it provides a self-registration mechanism for agencies to officially register their social media accounts centrally, so they don’t have to build a solution within each agency. This tool is now available for agencies to use on HowTo.gov so they can start entering and editing their data. This information will be open to all federal agencies.
“We will be collecting the authorized, authentic, and one and only social media pages for all of federal government,” Bev Goodwin, GSA’s director of Federal Citizen Information Center told AOL Government. The center is part of GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT), which developed the registry.
“This way, when an agency goes and starts a new Facebook page or YouTube account, they can register their information and we will authenticate it,” she said. “And when the public sees that and wonders whether the page is real, they can come to registry to see if it is an authorized government page.”
The public needs to know whether a government social media page is real or not.”
The registry will list official government social media pages and channels on 22 popular social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Foursquare, GovLoop,IdeaScale, Slideshare, Scribd and others.
One important reason for developing the registry is because fake and false look-alike government social media pages permeate the Internet. Phishing attacks are rampant explained Goodwin (pictured at left).
“And because online fraud is such a big problem, the public needs to know whether a government social media page is real or not. The registry provides the public with one website where they can verify the authenticity of government social media outlets,”
The Social Media Registry allows agencies to register their official social media accounts in a single database. This database will eventually power a Social Media Checker which, once launched, will allow users to verify social media URLs against the database and determine if an account is registered to an official government agency Goodwin said.
“By providing user friendly web tools to self-register accounts online, GSA hopes to make to make it very simple for government agencies to voluntarily enter information about their existing social media accounts and new ones they create.”
This governmentwide platform will be developed using open systems and have three user friendly APIs that track government social media channels and outlets continuously.
Addresses Key Issues
According to GSA, the Social Media Registry will help address three key issues:
1. Unlike most government websites which are hosted on .gov or .mil domains, social media sites are hosted on commercial domains. Without the .gov or .mil domain, it’s difficult to tell legitimate government sites from impersonators. Now the public can use the social media registry to validate that a social media account is really managed by the government and is not an impostor.
2. There are thousands of social media accounts being used by US government agencies. The Social Media Registry will help manage these accounts across the government and within individual agencies by offering a series of APIs which will allow agencies to get data about their agencies.
3. Rather than have every agency develop their own social media registry, GSA has developed a solution that can be used across government. In this way, GSA is helping federal agencies and the government be more cost-efficient. By collaborating across agencies, we can deliver a tool that is continuously improved for the benefit of everyone.
“We’ve built this registry so that people can trust that they’re engaging with a government agency through social media, and to provide a better picture of federal agencies using social media,” Goodwin noted.
How will it work?
GSA said there are two ways to use the registry:
1. Federal agencies register a social media account: This is hosted on HowTo.gov and allows anyone with a .gov or .mil email address to add an official federal social media account to the registry. When a user adds an account, that person will be able to indicate the managing agency, the language of the account, and add tags as meta data to describe the account.
2. Anyone can verify a social media account: Anyone will be able to visit a public webpage (hosted on USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov), paste in the URL of a social media account (e.g.http://twitter.com/USAgov) and find out if it’s in the federal social media database or not.