If all goes well, soon you'll be able to meet up with the folks from the Agricultural Research Service or the Office of Personnel Management on Facebook and MySpace! Thanks to agreements that the U.S. General Services Administration reached with the two companies this week, there should soon be lots of new profiles of government agencies on the social-networking sites. The GSA says that the agreements resolve legal concerns on issues like advertising, endorsements, and liability that until now have deterred some government entities from using the sites. A Facebook spokesman says the agreement will enable federal agencies to "establish a presence on Facebook so that they may communicate more interactively with the constituencies they serve."
Already the General Services Administration is using its Facebook page (which has 517 fans) to make assorted announcements. An example from this morning: "Did you get your tax refund yet? If not, check its status at http://bit.ly/78Dp."
The agency also announced similar agreements this week with Blist, Slideshare and AddThis. And that's on top of pacts the agency already has with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and blip.tv. GSA also says it is in discussions "with many other providers that offer free new media services," and that it is "answering President Obama's call to increase citizen participation in government" although it also says it has been negotiating the agreements since last year.
By Joseph Tartakoff