The General Services Administration reached agreements with popular social media networks like Facebook and YouTube to allow agencies to use the service.
Previously, elements of the terms of these services blocked the government from using them.
So what’s a government to do?
The “agreements” resolve legal concerns and conditions having to do with liability, endorsements, advertisements, freedom of information, and governing law.
Other than the blog post with the video, there isn’t much to the page other than a few links to Whitehouse.gov and to Obama’s and Vice President Joe Biden’s MySpace pages, as well as a link to some playful White House photos. The whole page seems designed to humanize Obama and help younger voters relate to him.
There are no ads on the page, but if you click through to photos page, then you do get some ads. The ad beside this photo of the president running down a hallway with his daughter’s puppy says, “Pimp My Profile.”
Not very Presidential.
Hopefully, these pages will follow the same pattern as the administration’s other web efforts – they start out underwhelming, but improve eventually.
For example, the White House blog originally contained little more than repackaged press releases, but it has become chatty and conversational.
Meanwhile, until recently, the Recovery.gov site for learning about how the $787 billion stimulus package gets spent lacked any real data.
Privacy advocates’ biggest concern is that most social networks treat a government agency no differently than a former roommate. People might friend the White House on MySpace, for example, to indicate support for the president or to get messages about what the administration is doing.
In doing so, however, they are agreeing that every party photo, love poem, and wisecrack from a friends that appears on their profiles will be visible to White House Web masters.
And so far there are no guidelines that say whether those Webmasters might keep copies of any of personal information they see or send it to the government officials who could use it to get authorization to audit people’s taxes, keep them from boarding an airplane, tap their telephones or even arrest them.
In case you are wondering where your tax dollars are being spent these days via federal employees, here are a few places to visit online to learn more: