The Facebook Phenomenon – How Government is Getting Into The Act

Let’s face it, Facebook is huge.  More than 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day. This includes people in every continent—even Antarctica.  Now many government agencies are deploying their own version of this popular social networking site to share  information and connect with niche communities.

ExchangesConnect is a social network administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US Department of State.  The site is geared toward people interested or participating in international exchange and learning more about other cultures.  Have you participated in a exchangesconnectstudy abroad or student exchange program?  Or know someone who has?  Imagine being able to connect to those people after returning home.  ExchangesConnect aims to help you do that and much more.  Recently launched in October 2008, ExchangesConnect already has more than 7600 members and over 60 active groups.

This spring NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center will debut an internal social network for its employees.  The site will mimic Facebook and feature individuals’ profiles, expertise and personal interests, said Linda Cureton, chief information officer at Goddard.  Spacebook seems to be NASA’s latest foray into social networking after their massive success with the @MarsPhoenix account on Twitter.

A-Space (A is for analyst), dubbed the “social network for spies”, was reportedly launched in September of 2008 as a social network for the intelligence community.  The effort is spearheaded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, a post created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to coordinate foreign and domestic security.  A-Space was developed specifically for prominent intelligence organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) with a total of 16 intelligence agencies participating.  The site aims to give spies a chance to interact with their peers and share data like they never have been able to before.  A-Space even made Time Magazines list of Best Inventions of 2008.  Naturally, the A-Space network will not be open to members of the public and only intelligence employees with the prerequisite level of security clearance will be granted official access.

And of course, you can’t talk about government social networking without mentioning Govloop.  It may not be federal agency run but is aimed at federal employees.  Govloop was launched by federal employee Steve Ressler in his spare time with the goal of connecting the government community.  It’s proving to be a great way for government employees at the local, govloopstate, and federal levels to collaborate, share ideas, and ask for advice and assistance.  Govloop now boasts more than 6000 members, 800 blogs, 300 groups, 250 discussions, 2000 photos.  Are you on Govloop?  I am.

The US isn’t the only place government is getting in to the social networking game.  In late 2008 Transport For London (TfL) – the government owned company running the public transportation system in London – launched a social networking site called Together For London. The purpose is to gather ideas from customers about how to make London a better place. Registered users can create an avatar (called “Little Londoner”), start and participate in discussions, and even set up a campaign.

P.S. I wonder if the Dept. of State employees can even access ExchangesConnect since it is built using Ning, which is blocked by many government agencies.  Hmmm…..

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4 Responses to “The Facebook Phenomenon – How Government is Getting Into The Act”


  1. 1 Andrea Weiss February 17, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for your post. You mention some interesting sites that as a career counselor will be good resources to refer my clients to.

    I’d be interested to hear how HR departments in local government, nonprofit or higher ed fields are using the various social networking sites to conduct recruitment and if they are finding any success- what is working and what isn’t working.

  2. 2 Andrew Krzmarzick February 19, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Sara,

    Thanks for the post. Both Exchanges Connect and GovLoop are run through the Ning.com platform. I have had two conversations about Ning in the past 24 hours – one related to a North Carolina international advocacy group interested in microfinance and another discussion tied to my church. Ning is great because it allows for a “customized Facebook,” as you mention above. I talked about Exchanges Connect on GovLoopGovLoop and highlight the fact that State has several Facebook pages at my blog. Peace Corps is also using Ning for their version of “Connect.” Great stuff happening!

    By the way, I added you to my blogroll under “Surveying the Power of Web 2.0”

  3. 3 Andrea R. Baker February 19, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    Trying to fill you in more on Intellipedia and how its a success and a social networking tool for the Intelligence Community, see this http://www.marketing-consigliere.com/?p=1677


  1. 1 Government 2.0 » The Buzz Bin Trackback on March 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm

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