In what is being lauded as the single most important social media initiative across the U.S. Federal Government in the past four years, the U.S. General Services Administration has released an update to the U.S. Digital Registry along with an API for end users and government agencies.
The initial goal of the Digital Registry is to enable platforms to instantly verify when an account is an official government agency. At present, there are over 6,000 social media accounts across GitHub, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram and others that are managed by government services. With the rise of Slack, HipChat and other collaboration chat channels, a new suite of official channels will no doubt emerge next.
“The rise of third-party platforms in delivering modern public services required us to rise beside them with greater means of maintaining accountability over official government accounts, and make it as easy to follow all public services as it was to find one,” wrote GSA’s SocialGov Lead, Justin Herman in a blog post on Medium (another external platform) late yesterday to coincide with the launch.
A key benefit of the Digital Registry for end users will be greater confidence that they are talking and dealing directly with government agencies. At its core, it is a cybersecurity measure to prevent fake accounts from posing as government agencies like Veterans Affairs or Health and Human Services and requesting personal information. GSA holds up the Facebook list for the Central Intelligence Agency as an example of how non-agency accounts create social media accounts under the guise of official Government status:
To push the Registry as the single source of truth for Government social media accounts, the GSA team is aiming for all Government accounts to be listed in the Registry by Leap Day (Feb 29 this year). Agencies will then be encouraged to enrich that data by completing all data fields by the end of the first quarter (March 31).