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GSA tools seek to authenticate federal social media accounts UPDATED

A portal coming in mid-May will allow agencies to register official sites
Tools

Social media users curious to know if a tweet truly originates from the federal government can make use of a new General Services Administration verification tool

The tool allows users to paste the URL of a social media account and click "Verify" to check that an account is legitimate and managed by an agency, federal official or cabinet member, for example.

For now the tool just checks for federal social media accounts that have registered with GSA. However, not all federal accounts have registered with GSA.

For example, Transportation Department Secretary Ray LaHood, an active tweeter, has not registered with GSA. GSA spokesman Bob Lesino said agencies soon will be able to quickly register their social media accounts through a self-service portal on HowTo.gov.

Lesino said GSA is conducting a "soft launch" of the registry portal, first telling agency representatives about it during a recent DigitalGov University webinar.

"They can see how it's going to work…give us some instruction on how to make it work in the best way possible," said Lesino.

The official launch of the registry will happen around mid-May, he added. "Like most of our projects, [this] was an OMB thing that they asked GSA to take on in the Office of Citizen Services," he said.

In an April 24 SocialFeds blog post, Sara Cope wrote about the portal demo during the DigitalGov University webinar. She said that anyone with an email address ending in .gov or .mil and a valid phone number will be permitted to update or add to the registry of official accounts. Cope's LinkedIn profile says she is an IT project manager for the Veterans Affairs Department.

Until now, the Federal Social Media Subcouncil's best practices for federal website authentication were to simply to:

  • Claim authenticity clearly at the top of the social media page or account;
  • provide reciprocal links to the official .gov domain;
  • speak with a consistent, authoritative voice and tone; and
  • notify social media outlet administrators in cases where the official site is being mimicked or "spoofed."

UPDATED April 27 3:26 PM: On April 26 GSA unveiled the self-service social media account verification tool and published a related blog post. LaHood's Twitter account remains unverified.

For more:
- visit GSA's social media verification tool
- see SocialFed's screen grab of the test registration site
- see the SocialFeds blog post

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