Yesterday there was a buzz about the speed with which the new administration was modernizing procedures and technology. The have a Director of New Media, for goodness sake! Part of this excitement drove me to start digging for agencies and individuals who were embracing this notion of Communication and Participation by the new Obama administration. At first, yesterday, I came across dozens of agencies actively participating in social media and microblogging.
Anyone who was connected to social media over the past year was aware of the twitter accounts for candidates:
@BarackObama and @JoeBiden are both still active, but have fallen silent for most of the time between winning the election and the inauguration. @joe Biden hasn’t updated his twitter page since August, and @BarackObama has posted twice since winning the election. @JohnMcCain hasn’t updated since Oct 24, and Sara Palin… well, one can’t quite be sure if she ever had a real presence on Twitter.
Granted, these men and women have calendars that are impossibly full, and to expect them to actively participate in social networking might seem… well… naive. But they did before. Before the election, there were constant and consistent updates, information, and comments shared through Twitter. Now these tools that made meaningful connections with citizens and voters have been seemingly abandoned.
I had hope when I was pointed in the direction yesterday of @TheWhiteHouse. Like many, I figured that the Obama administration would just transition that connection to a larger, broader scale and encompass the White House in general. This account’s earliest tweet available is from September 6, 2007. Maybe they were handing over the account like they do the Lincoln bedroom. I had hopes for this. That is, until today. Today, the account changed the Bio to read: “Links to news about the white house; unaffiliated with the white house.”
My original intent for this post was to be a handful of examples of governmental agencies that have gotten involved in social media. I was planning on splitting the posts up. Now, I have to reevaluate whether that’s even worth it.
Yesterday, @USSupremeCourt, @HouseFloor, and @SenateFloor all changed their avatars from the official seals to the generic avatar given to new users. Their bios all changed over night to Some version of “Not affiliated with the actual *INSERT GOV AGENCY*” Needless to say, this is disappointing. For a single day I had the hopes that things were starting to gel, that connectivity and that the information availability problem was solving itself. It turns out that’s not true. Those official looking accounts are no better than @IRS_gov. Granted, the aforementioned accounts at least took the pains to provide accurate details and links, but ultimately, they aren’t sanctioned by the US Government.
I suppose I should have seen this coming after reading the reaction of the Staff to the status of technology at the White House. I can only hope that these regressions only mean that these government agencies will be figuring out how to vet information and distribute it via social media on their terms rather than not at all.