I’m disappointed in govloop. I was hoping to find more information on the legal side of social media – complying with public record and open meeting laws. However, this site appears to be more federally oriented and businesses advertising their conferences.

The business advertising is most annoying. With the economic conditions facing local goverments, the last thing that will be approved would be travel to a conference on social networking.

The federal employees don’t have the same strict open records laws that many state and local governments have.

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Hey Kira – Let me know if you see business advertising as I dont’ want the site to get that feeling. That’s not the purpose of the site. The goal is to connect people to share best practices to improve government. I may have to go crack down.

The legal side of social media is still being defined but agencies are working on it hard. At the federal level, we do have pretty tough open records requirements – called FOIA. I know some S/L governments have stricter (or sometimes less strict) versions of the same type of law.

A couple good resources that has fed/state/and local perspective on legal side of social media –
Legal impediments to social media – https://www.govloop.com/group/legalimpedimentstogov20

Also check out the wiki – Laws and Policy that hinder Gov 2.0

Let me know if you have any questions and happy to help.

Steve Ressler
Founder, GovLoop.com

Donna L. Quesinberry


Sometimes I believe it is easier to find fault with a social network than to work to change it; however, that being said, typically an attempt to make any adjustments to any “social” network results in a lot of grumbling and high school antics.

GovLoop is a Ning Architecture website – I would suggest looking at your profile on “Ning” as one was created when you joined GovLoop. Then – when at the Ning Home Level, put in a search for the legalities of social media, public record compliance, and open meeting laws. You may find something there.

Unfortunately, social networks tend to mirror their perspective environments – meaning…the federal sector’s most innovative agenda tends to be centered on “conferences.” And, by that I mean, I love the federal environment, but often given the nature of the environment the thing that is oftentimes a must do to be “included in the federal in crowd” are the conferences. All the “success-driven” employees get funded to a conference on behalf of their agency.

In private sector conferences are so continual that often folks are staying out of the room during selections to attend rather than hoping their name will be called.

Personally, I don’t attend conferences as a rule – while contemporaries do – and I really don’t like conferences all that much. I’d prefer to have the prospectus and white papers from the preparers, but I report on the topics so I usually will attend those that have merit for the topic I’m undertaking.

Advertising is something I used to feel was a nuisance as well as you – at this time though I really like advertisements and advertorials – especially earnest and entertaining ones. In a Capitalist society, which we are, the capability to market isn’t something to avoid at all costs and blatant self-love of product fests to me are like mini-celebrations of our success in this society.

A lot of folks too who attend conferences – pay for them out of their own pocket – rather than get funded. But, you are correct, most folks are funded through their companies.

If you want to gain more insight on the legal side of social media – I would suggest creating a group if the search on Ning fails to turn up anything.

What I know of these sites is that we have to make them what we want them to be. After all – the memberships only near 10000 for the “very high membership sites.” Wasn’t that long ago we could achieve that “personally” on MySpace. These are not astronomical memberships – therefore the data shares are really segmented within that membership base and at best the result of a “handful” of members garnering their email friend list as new members. What I am alluding to is that we only are reviewing information and education resources on any Ning Architecture from a short list of participants in any given field. Certainly, this isn’t the whole enchilada in as far as the entirety of the federal or state and local government with only 10,000 members.

If I can locate some social media legalese – complying with public record and open meeting laws I’ll forward it to your attention.

And, just so you are aware, many folks go through an elation phase of joining a Ning site such as GovLoop – then there’s the backlash – where personalities emerge that have maintained a stronghold within the site (any site) and they aren’t always happy to see someone who may damper their environment – then there is a rank and file stage (the most dis-pleasant as this embraces all the negativity we hoped social networks would depose, then there is the plateau of acceptance that it is what it is, then the final result of working within the paradigm as it was developed.

The other disappointing thing about Ning sites that without arbitration you can be X’d off one without just cause or explanation. The creator of this site is nice (Steve), but if you review the bylaws of many of these sites – if you do anything the owner doesn’t like you can be deleted. There is some arbitration through Ning – as it is technically their site on their architecture – but truth be told they don’t like to be involved. So if you join a Ning site that has a less comprehensive creator than Steve is on GovLoop – any time you upset another member by posting something they “feel” steps on their toes (whether realistic or not) you can get the delete button.

What is interesting to determine is through the Ning Architecture – who really owns and operates Ning? And, then the “private groups” on sites such as GovLoop – who really has access to all that data? To me that is the more interesting question.

In my opinion this is a nice way to meet people with similar mindsets and interests. To garner insights into this classification of “hot items” in the sector to use as jumping boards to more extensive research. Each Ning site is like a stepping stone on the path to discovery – they are not; however, the end all of discourse on any given topic, just a sampling demographic.

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Bob Gourley

Kira a friend of mine was pointing out similar sentiment about gov2.0 conferences a few weeks ago. Some of them are incredibly expensive, which means they can realistically only be attended by people from large organizations that have huge travel and/or training budgets. But what so many of us hope for is a Gov2.0 movement that impacts all levels of government and as much of the mission as possible.

A bunch of us are on Twitter also. A friend remarked last night that ” I find it funny that there are more conferences about Government 2.0 than there are efforts toward achieving Government 2.0″ That remark resulted in a flurry of discussion that included ideas like “We should discuss that at the next conference.”

Sorry I don’t know the real answer to the issue of expensive conferences, other than for us all to participate in more unconferences like the ones http://twitter.com/mixtmedia has organized for the community.

Patrick Quinn

hey Kira–

Don’t give up the ship! It’s true that GovLoop skews heavily fed, but there are a growing number of state and local government employees in the community. There aren’t a ton of social media practitioners here, but that’s because there aren’t yet a ton of SM practitioners in government.

What you will find here are the people who are developing the policies and procedures that will shape the federal government’s SM efforts for the immediate future. This is all vy much a work in progress, the train is only just leaving the station, but most of the folks driving the train (or who will be driving the train vy soon) are on this community.

I won’t dispute yr point about the endless conference-shilling, but that’s hardly unique to GovLoop; it’s striking how quickly “Gov 2.0” was reduced to a marketing term-of-art. I recommend that you look over the links Steve posted in his comment to get a feel for the kind of truly useful information that can be found here, because (unlike many online communities) there really is a mountain of useful information spread around GovLoop.

Hang in there! This is a truly exciting time to be working in government.

Walter Neary

Hi Kira … It’s correct to say this site is federally oriented and certainly a lot of gov2.0 traffic esp. on Twitter is from consultants. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as consultants have to be pretty enterpreneurial and thus drive a lot of ideas and energy.

If you are looking for local and state applications, and discussions of public records, etc., then you want to be looking around https://www.govloop.com/group/munigov and http://www.munigov.org/ For example, there’s a good discussion going on there now on how to archive/record Facebook pages to comply with the law.

That said, we’re only now seeing a lot of discussion of public records and open meetings implications, and a lot of the material is coming together. Especially ecause of a screwball court case unique to Washington state, some of us here are collaborating on a page http://citycouncilbloghandbook.wikispaces.com/Legal+Issues+and+Guidance

Gray Craig

Hi Kira…like the others have said, GovLoop is heavy with a federal government presence. But I’ve found (as a local minucipal govt) that many times the feds are more helpful to local governments than the state agencies. Sometimes it feels like feds are going gangbusters with Web 2.0 and social media, but states and localities are left at the “kiddie table” watching each other to see who moves first.

I feel the overall concerns of state and local governments are over legal matters, public records laws, first amendment, privacy, etc. No one wants to jump in the pool without the lifejacket of precendent or case law on their side if things go south with a social network.

Fortunately, more and more localities and states are testing the waters of Social Media each day. I think it will take a broader cry at the state and local levels to review and challenge existing legal impediments to government social networking. In the meantime, many of us are putting the policies and procedures of due diligence in place, and holding our collective breath.

Kira Honse

Thank you for your replies. I don’t see the laws as impediments. The whole point of public records laws and open meeting laws are to make government more open to the people. Social Media is also a method of making government more open to the people.

Joe Sanchez

Kira, at the Open Government Innovation Conference two weeks ago, I asked one of the panels about the challenges facing government agencies use and adoption of social media. Universally, they all identified getting legal reviews and input as one of their bigger challenges.

Your point about the GovLoop’s lack of attention on this is a good one but I think it’s lacking simply because, to date, there really has not been a focus on the legal issues associated with the usage and adoption of social media in government agencies.

Steve, this might be a specific top for a future Gov2.0 event. It would be great if we could get some government lawyers to articulate their perspective on this for some more specificity.

Amanda Blount

Kira, what about you starting a Legal Discussion Thread? As you find out information, you could share it on this website… then the website would have the legal information for the next person who needs it.

As for conferences – VTCs and Taped versions of the speaches can make good substitutes for actually being there. Also, webcams can be broadcasted to the big screen and local folks can be sitting in Egypt and see the conference being held in CA. Of course, combining these ideas with tweets, GovLoop, and facebook can keep all people connected when wanting the knowledge of the conference, but no money to get there. It can be done, and it can be lots of fun.