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Is social media in government a non-starter?

Many readers are puzzled by the recent news that the General Services Administration has developed terms of service agreements with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other popular social networking tools.

What’s the point, they ask, since most agencies block employee access to these tools?

Point taken.

Some social media proponents I talked with at this week’s Government Leadership Summit believe such bans are only temporary. It’s just a matter of developing the right security and teaching employees the ground rules.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, here are excerpts of comments we’ve received on a recent blog post, “5 ways social media will change how feds work” (also check out "5 keys to making social media work in government").

* All of these technologies have challenges, but the simple fact is that they are not going away and the federal government will need to understand, experiment and learn how to most effectively use them to support their constituency. I'm not surprised at these reactions; I'm sure there were troglodytes in the 1400s that were afraid and critical of the printing press as well.

* The government needs to adopt these technology tools or risk being left behind. Wake up, Washington!

* As a few have mentioned: Security? It already is a joke, this will make it nonexistent. Or does the fed intend to set up their own secure servers not connected to the other Twitter, Facebook, etc. garbage to prevent infections and data mining (as my daughter found out the hard way)?

* Many of us work in an environment where the use of social media will give the “enemy” (be they Arabic, Chinese or industrial complexes) much data to sift and compare, unless it is isolated from the world, and then what use is it across company boundaries?

* Just one more way to make all that data the government collects available to anyone/everyone (including those who seek to harm this country).

* Twitter is already known for one-time users — most do not continue — and it is being hacked and mined, as is FaceBook.

* WOW! I am reading that privacy issues and security risks are no longer valid considerations, that we'll have to resign ourselves to losing control of technology, that government opening up to the people simply means talk show hosts will use their influence to get their names out front in, that we should push out our raw government data and let the public decide how to put it together for their own purposes, that government should use the Web 2.0 tools, but those communicating need to know what today's "message" is, and if you don't let employees use Facebook/Twitter, you'll take a productivity hit. I can't wait to see how government screws this one up ...

Posted by John Stein Monroe on May 20, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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