Governments’ Embrace of Social Media Sparking New Security Fears

As government agencies increasingly turn to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to interact with citizens, some agencies question whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Although direct and nearly immediate interaction with citizens is ideal, the security risks are considerable. Hackers and viruses become an increased risk when you have an online presence, not just because of the increased online activity and gateways, but because of employees’ lack of caution in posting updates through social media. As suggested by an article from www.GovTech.com:

 Take, for example, the disgruntled state worker who expresses his frustration on Twitter about a network that’s been down for hours. Although it’s a public airing of a common occurrence, for a government agency, it’s an open invitation to hackers.

The GovTech.com article further goes on to explain a few simple methods of controlling the risks of social media for government agencies. Training, collaboration, and control of employee access to outputing the agency message are a few of the suggestions. The article quoted Steve Ressler, president and co-founder of GovLoop.com, an online social networking site that connects government innovators, on the benefits of government agencies using social media:

Government’s mission for centuries has been to reach citizens on topics, whether that’s in person, at town halls, through letters or signs on street corners. Part of government’s role is to get information out to citizens and get their feedback. Social media is one of the No. 1 tools people want to use right now.

SocialGovernment.com has put out information about best practices for government agencies using Twitter and Facebook.  These are good starter tutorials for agencies thinking about having a social media presence. If you’re already using social media, be sure to follow MACo on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ConduitStreet for all of the latest MACo news and updates.

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