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How Does The US Government Communicate With Its Citizens?

The 9 Best US Government Social Media Accounts

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Once, there were fireside chats.

Giphy / Via giphy.com

Now, we can snap, like, retweet, and share our government. From Twitter to Tumblr, here are 9 of the best US Government social media accounts - and what they’re trying to tell us.

9. National Security Administration (NSA): Twitter

National Security Administration / Via Twitter: @NSAGov

Followers: 270K

Following: 113

Other Accounts: Facebook

Official Description: "The official account for the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, home to America's codemakers and codebreakers. Terms: http://1.usa.gov/1NVLm6s"

The NSA tweets diverse posts, including an online logic puzzle “The Puzzle Periodical,” highlights of programs in cybersecurity, historical facts, and advertising STEM programs. This account clearly makes an effort to engage its followers, and posts as many uplifting or entertainment-focused posts as informational security-related ones. Interestingly, the NSA and the FBI both have many fake Instagram accounts, either claiming to be the organization or posting stories and conspiracy theories related to the agencies.

8. Department of State: YouTube

Department of State / Via youtube.com

Followers: 54,827

Following: n/a

Other Accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr

Official Description: "Welcome to state video, featuring official video produced by the U.S. Department of State. Videos include remarks by Secretary Kerry, Daily Press Briefings, special video collections based on foreign policy issues, and candid interviews of U.S. diplomats.

Comment Policy: https://blogs.state.gov/dipnote-content/about-state-department-blog"

The Department of State’s YouTube account is very active, with over 100 videos in the last month alone. While many of its videos are footage of the Secretary of State, department sponsored events, and Daily Press Briefings. However, there are also hundreds of videos for each region of the world, as well as playlists called #RefugeesWelcome, Our Ocean, and Iran Nuclear Deal. The account highlights the actions of ambassadors all around the world, and actively recruits for the Department of State, with 138 videos of individuals discussing their careers at the department. This account is particularly notable for its quantity of videos, with endless hours of footage - as opposed to other social media accounts, it is practically impossible for one person to keep track of this account.

7. Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Tumblr

Internal Revenue Service / Via internalrevenueservice.tumblr.com

Followers: Not Public

Following: Not Public

Other Accounts: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Official Description: "Using the latest technologies, the IRS offers multiple avenues for you to get tax information. If you have a smartphone, we have an app! If you like to watch videos from your phone or computer, we have dozens of helpful YouTube videos…and, of course, follow us on Tumblr.

Here you'll find tax tips, videos, podcasts and more."

The IRS Tumblr account is exactly what one would expect - links to articles and videos on how to file taxes, tips for tax-preparedness, and advertising for volunteer tax assistance programs. The agency clearly strives to be accessible, through fun “Dirty Dozen” tax scams, simple tax tips with graphics, videos, and the mere fact that the IRS, a less-than well liked agency, has a Tumblr at all.

6. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): Twitter

Federal Bureau of Investigation / Via Twitter: @FBI

Followers: 1.78M

Following: 2,198

Other Accounts: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Official Description: "Official Twitter Page of the FBI. If you have a tip, please submit it here: https://tips.fbi.gov/"

The interesting aspect of the FBI Twitter presence is that there are 36 verified FBI accounts, 32 for cities around the US, FBI Jobs, FBI Most Wanted, FBI Records Vault, and the official national FBI page, along with countless other accounts that aren’t verified but have been retweeted by the FBI and are evidently legitimate. The main account serves to ask for tips on specific cases, provide security advice, advertise jobs, celebrate holidays, sports wins, birthdays, and criminal convictions, and share stories of projects the FBI is working on and successful cases from the past.

5. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Blog

Federal Emergency Management Agency / Via fema.gov

Followers: n/a

Following: n/a

Other Accounts: Facebook, Twitter

Official Description: “The purpose of this blog is to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on Emergency Management. We encourage your comments; your ideas and concerns are important to ensure that a broad range of individuals are active and informed participants in the discussion. FEMA reserves the right to modify this policy at any time….FEMA does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. FEMA may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person.”

The initially striking quality of FEMA’s blog is its accessibility. It is simple formatting, large font and lots of white space. Most blog entries aren’t posted by a mysterious “FEMA” or “Public Affairs”, but by individuals without titles before their names. Many of them are female - Fema’s “Digital Storyteller,” Jessica Stapf, has over 50 posts. The tone of the posts are casual, and make it evident that the blog is for entertainment, rather than advice in case of emergency, and the only section of the website that is official and organized is the “Blog Disclaimers and Policies.”

4. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): Facebook

National Aeronautics and Space Administration / Via Facebook: NASA

Followers: 18M

Following: n/a

Other Accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Tumblr

Official Description: "Explore the universe and discover our home planet with the official NASA page on Facebook. Visit us at www.nasa.gov"

While the NASA Facebook account posts diverse articles and videos about careers in the agency and the history of space exploration, it is incredibly popular because of its incredible footage of space. While the highlights of individuals and science and technology posts are fascinating, the ones that get the most likes are undoubtedly aesthetically pleasing pictures from space. Most excitingly, the page informs users about “What’s visible in the night sky this month?,” encouraging people around the world to sit back and watch the stars.

3. White House: App

Nexus Studios / Via Apple App Store

Followers: n/a

Following: n/a

Other Accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Tumblr

Official Description: "The White House’s “1600” is a new way for kids and playful Americans of all ages to learn about what happens at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. All you need to do is tap “Start” and point your camera at George Washington (on the one dollar bill). Built through a collaboration with the White House Historical Association and Nexus Studios, the app’s aim is to educate and inspire the youngest Americans to learn more about the White House’s role in our democracy. Our hope is that whether it is experiences on a teacher’s desk or dining room table, kids walk away from “1600” with a better sense of the institution and its purpose (not to mention, a smile.) Tip: move your phone around to explore from different angles, and touch the Oval Office to reveal a surprise."

This app is incredible. Users enter the app and point the camera at a one dollar bill, and a virtual model of the White House appears on the bill. Narrated by Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary and Assistant to the President, this app explores the house and its many traditions. As Earnest wrote on the White House blog, the app shows that “even as seasons and people change, the White House endures as an institution of American democracy.” Like its many other accounts, the app actively engages users and is accessible and simple to use, although it is arguably only good for one use. This app truly brings the government into users’ homes on a simple, engaging platform.

2. Department of the Interior: Snapchat

Department of the Interior / Via Twitter: @interior

Followers: Not Public

Following: Not Public

Other Accounts: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

Official Description: n/a

The Department of the Interior frequently posts informative videos from national parks around the country, compressing the many roles of the department into easily accessible and short Snapchat stories. These typically consist of magnificent views and informative ten second pitches from rangers, advertising of careers in the department, and navigation of hikes - the views are breathtaking!

1. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA): Instagram

Transportation Safety Administration / Via Instagram: @https://www.instagram.com/tsa/?hl=en

Followers: 580K

Following: 84

Other Accounts: Instagram, Twitter, YouTube

Description: This is the official TSA account. Stay tuned for pictures of TSA & travel-related images. http://bit.ly/privacyandcommentpolicy blog.tsa.gov

The TSA Instagram account had earned attention through its many posts of confiscated items. Batarangs are a frequent appearance, as well as most other types of weapons. The page also frequently spotlights explosives and drug detection canines, all posts finished with a version of “Good doggo, Leo!” The account also used the hashtag #TSAgoodcatch several hundred times up until September 2, 2016, at which point #TSAtraveltips began being included in the description of pictures of weapons the TSA discovered at airports around the nation. This page is both entertaining and amusing, and clearly seeks to reverse the antagonistic feelings many may have about the TSA.

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