@BareKnuckleDawg recently sent me the following concerns regarding government use of social media:
- I regard this "Gov 2.0 thing as the governments way of attempting to spy on the public while "sitting in their lap", so to speak.
- The government wants to constantly monitor public sentiment - and I think you are all aiming for a degree of control over it.
- I believe the government wants to monitor public sentiment in realtime and have the ability to "shutdown" any user they choose
My response was that nothing I've said, and nothing I've ever heard, matched these suspicions. I've talked to a whole lot of people at a huge range of agencies at every level: federal, state, local, and even other countries. In every case, *every single case*, the discussion centers on ideals of citizen engagement, open government, transparency, etc. But I also acknowledged that it's possible some agencies will use these tools in that way. I mean, people can use any tool, online or off, for nefarious purposes.
I suspect there's no way to convince anyone of what we'll actually do in advance, so we just need to do it instead. And in a free society, the best defense is citizens keeping an eye on things.
But I also think this is a wide-open discussion topic, and I'd love to see loads of people share their thinking. To get the ball rolling, here are a few questions to ponder:
- What's the "real" reason gov't agencies want to engage in social media?
- Is there any way to convince skeptics like @BareKnuckleDawg that they're wrong, other than just doing it and showing what we're up to over time?
- If some agency does use social media the way suggested, how should other agencies, the public, the media, etc. react?
As you discuss, feel free to suggest other questions and I'll update this main post.