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The mystery of the suspended U.S. government Twitter accounts
November 7, 2017 / Leave a comment
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.
via Suspended U.S. government Twitter accounts • Social Feed Manager.
Tweets of Congress, tweets of Trump archived and downloadable in bulk
June 28, 2017 / Leave a comment
The recently-launched Tweets Of Congress is collecting and publishing daily archives of tweets by congressional representatives, caucuses, and committees. The site only got up and running last week, so there are daily archives starting June 21, 2017. There’s also the Trump Twitter Archive, which has collected more than 30,000 of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets, which can be searched and downloaded in bulk.
But this points to a larger issue of the US government using commercial social media sites and tools to communicate with the public. This time around, the 2016 End of Term crawl included 9,000+ social media accounts (scraped from the .gov social media registry API) and included 44% FaceBook, 37% Twitter, 10% YouTube accounts. We also collected ~130 TB of .gov ftp sites that agencies use to serve out their collected data sets.
Tweets of Congress is my attempt to collate the entirety of Congress’ daily Twitter output using an automated process that checks Twitter on a fixed interval. Archives are available on this site and in JSON form. You can find JSON datasets linked in posts or in this site’s Github repo. Due to size constraints, archives will be limited at some tbd point. This site is open-source, so feel free to fork or whatever to your heart’s content. For any issues or other feedback, file an issue in the repo or send me an email.
via About – Tweets of Congress.
HT Data Is Plural 2017.06.28 edition. Don’t forget to subscribe to Jeremy Singer-Vine’s Data Is Plural weekly newsletter!
Preliminary List of Official White House Twitter Accounts
Trump’s fleeting tweets alarm archivists
February 6, 2017 / Leave a comment
Politico reports that some, but not all, of the tweets from @realDonaldTrump show up on the official Twitter handle @POTUS. The article also says, “Trump’s aides have also used their own unofficial Twitter accounts to speak to voters. And on occasion, both the president and his advisers have scrubbed posts after they’ve gone up — raising questions, according to archivists, about what should and will be preserved at the end of his administration.”
- Trump’s fleeting tweets alarm archivists, by Tony Romm and Nancy Scola, Politicio (02/05/17).
ODNI & DOJ release declassified documents … on Tumblr?!
March 1, 2016 / Leave a comment
The US Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) just declassified the Bush administration’s memo justifying warrantless surveillance – via PDF on Tumblr! Turns out ODNI has been doing this since 2013. I’m not averse to federal agencies having a social media presence. But the release of declassified and/or FOIA’d documents should NOT be done exclusively on tumblr/twitter/facebook etc. It’s fine to write about the release on those sites, but official documents should be hosted on official .gov sites — like for example the ODNI FOIA reading room! — where they can be archived by the National Archives, Government Publishing Office, Library of Congress and other official channels. I equate agencies using social media to release official documents in the same vein as government officials using gmail to conduct business. Not cool, and ODNI should know better.
The Department of Justice has released today in redacted form a previously classified 2002 letter from former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo of the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel addressed to former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Presiding Judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. The letter was designed to address certain questions that Judge Kollar-Kotelly raised during her first briefing on May 17, 2002, concerning certain collection activities authorized by President George W. Bush shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, referred to as the President’s Surveillance Program.
As described in the publicly released Inspectors General reports concerning the PSP dated July 10, 2009 (published at IC on the Record April 25, 2015 and September 21, 2015), Judge Kollar-Kotelly was permitted to read the letter, but was not authorized to retain a copy or take notes. The 2002 letter purports to generally outline the scope of the President’s legal authority to conduct possible electronic surveillance techniques after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Beginning in 2004, the Department of Justice thoroughly reexamined the factual underpinnings and legal analysis for the PSP culminating in a legal opinion issued by the Office of Legal Counsel on May 6, 2004. (That opinion is also publicly available in redacted form)
[HT Alex Howard!]
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