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Federal Agreements with Social Media Providers Released


Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request in April by the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC), the GSA has released the “Web 2.0 agreements” that were generated by the agency on behalf of the federal government with many social media providers in March of 2009.  The release includes contracts with Blip.tv, Blist, YouTube, Flickr, and MySpace and the amendments to the Facebook, Slideshare, Vimeo, and AddThis Terms of Service.  It seems that while these agreements may resolve legal concerns associated with many standard terms and conditions that pose problems for agencies, such as liability limits, endorsements and freedom of information, the contracts with the GSA consistently omit statements concerning Web 2.0 service providers’ obligations to protect privacy.

Read More: Privacy and Government Contracts with Social Media Companies

Related Post: Government Social Media Provider Update

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Government Social Media Service Provider Update


In May of this year, the U.S. General Services Administration negotiated Terms Of Service (TOS) with several big social media providers.  The goal was to arrive at a TOS federal agencies would be comfortable enough with to sign so each agency – and provider – would be spared from negotiating separate TOS agreements. The White House and GSA have now also negotiated Terms of Service agreements with nine additional social media providers:


Cooliris (video and picture browsing)
Dipity (multimedia timelines)
FriendFeed (social networking aggregator)
IdeaScale (voting and feedback)
MixedInk (collaborative writing)
Scribd (social publishing)
TubeMogul (video analytics and distribution)
TwitVid (video sharing)
Wikispaces (collaboration)


This brings the total number of agreements to 19, including previous agreements with AddThis, blip.tv, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Slideshare, Socrata (formerly Blist), Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube.

You can read more about the Federal TOS agreements on Webcontent.gov.

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New York State Launches Web 2.0 Initiatives


On June 5, the New York State Office for Technology announced Empire 2.0, a strategy to encourage state agencies to use “Web 2.0, new media, and social collaborative tools and technologies” to improve communication and services, and facilitate transparency and openness in government.New York State Tech Talk

The Office for Technology is leading the way. Since May it has launched its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, a wiki for developing IT policy and strategy, and crowdsourcing Web page that collects pubic comments and ideas for future projects.

[Read More]

Starting your own Facebook- Lessons Learned from NASA's Spacebook Project


NASA is building a social network for Goddard Space Flight Center, codenamed “Spacebook”.

Spacebook Prototype

Spacebook Prototype

Spacebook is an enhanced Intranet designed around user profiles, forums, groups, and social tagging. The goal of the project is to use social media to help NASA be more competitive and innovative, encourage collaboration and information sharing, and take better advantage of the information & resources they already have. Emma Antunes (@eantunes), Project Manager for Spacebook, recently gave a great webinar to share how she approached this project, got the buy-in from users, contractors, and management, and other invaluable lessons she learned in getting this implemented.

I’ve capture my takeaways from her presentation on implementing an internal social network and listed them below.

  • Get buy-in from the suits.  You need a champion in a senior management office to sponsor the project.  Get them excited about what you’re doing.  This allows you to engage them to remove any roadblocks and they can give the bossy stink eye when needed.
  • Approach it like any other technical project; Design first, technology second.  Focus on solving a business problem.  Don’t just jump into new media because it’s what the cool kids are doing.
  • Be proactive.  Get your legal support, privacy office, security group, and accessibility team involved at the jump off.  Miss the boat on one of these areas and your project could get shut down faster than the revised Facebook Terms of Service.
  • Use exisiting resources where you can.  This increases management buy-in because you’re not asking for additional funding right of the bat.  Try to re-prioritize existing developer staff and take advantage of internal hosting, existing contracts, and open-source software.
  • Take the perspective of the employee to really understand what user needs are.  What’s going on?  What’s in it for me? How can I participate?  How do I get answers to my questions?
  • Don’t expect people to change their processes unless you give them a big incentive.  If you build it they won’t come, if you make their job easier, they will.  The new process must be easier than the old one.
  • Get web developers out of the content game.  They don’t want to do it and you don’t want to have to ask them for updates.  And honestly, they cost too much money anyway.  Let the people in charge of the material manage it.
  • No content should exist without an owner.  Integrate and complement content that you already have.  Don’t just replicate it in a new forum that requires additional maintenance.
  • Don’t give someone another inbox they won’t check, a new username and password to enter, make them request a new account, or fill-in information that you already know.
  • Engage early adopters and group owners and get commitment from them to post content regularly.
  • Even if your audience is a bunch of twenty-somethings, you still need to train them.  We may like technology but, we hate extra work.  Show me how I can use your product to make my job easier.

Related Reads:

The Facebook Phenomenon – How Government is Getting Into The Act,  on Socialfeds.

Up, Up, and Away! Five Tips for Launching an Internal Network, by Zack Miller (@zgovernment) on Govloop.

Kiss of Death for Social Networking Projects: “What is your Business Case?”, by Brock Webb on Govloop.

The Elements of Social Architecture, by Christina Wodtke on A List Apart.