here’s a strange story unfolding. Our End of Term project friend Justin Littman from George Washington University, was doing some maintenance on the official US government twitter accounts that had been captured for the End of Term crawl, and noticed a number of .gov twitter accounts had been suspended. Account suspension happens when an account is sending spam or has been hacked or compromised in some way. I’ll let Justin explain below, but I’ll be really interested to find out how the folks running the U.S. Digital Registry are going to respond.
…When collecting a large number of Twitter accounts, the list of accounts requires occasional maintenance, as sometimes Twitter accounts are deleted or protected. It’s understandable how U.S. government accounts would be expected to change over time as agencies and initiatives change. However, when I was doing maintenance earlier today, I noticed something odd: a number of the accounts were suspended, not deleted or protected.
Curious, I exported the tweets from some of the suspended accounts. Really odd – the tweets were in Russian.
Then I checked back in the U.S. Digital Registry. The U.S. Digital Registry is supposed to be the authoritative list of the official U.S. government social media accounts…
…Still, there are some immediate take-aways:
- While the U.S. Digital Registry is a very important service for promoting trust and transparency in the U.S. government and invaluable for those of us attempting to archive the web presence of the U.S. government, it desperately needs a scrubbing and quality control processes put into place.
- The U.S. government needs to take full advantage of verified status on Twitter (i.e., the blue check), perhaps even requiring it.
- Twitter needs to deal with the problem of recycled screen names. A person or organization should be able to delete an account without the fear of being impersonated. In particular, for organizations such as government agencies, this is critical.
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