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Social Media Outlet Authentication Best Practices

Page history last edited by Jed Sundwall 14 years, 6 months ago



Members of the Federal Web Managers community have expressed concern that government agencies and organizations are being mimicked or “spoofed” by unofficial third parties on social media sites.


This wiki contains proposed best practices for government agencies and organizations to establish their authenticity when communicating through social media outlets, including recommendations specifically for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.


Table of Contents



Please add additional best practices for these and other outlets.



General authentication best practices


Claim authenticity


Library of Congress Asserting Authority on Flickr


Be assertive about claiming your authenticity by clearly stating that your social media outlet is official. Many spoofers are wary to overtly claim to be an official government source, particularly as doing so would violate many social media outlets’ Terms of Service.


Provide reciprocal links


Image of links to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube on USA.gov


The simplest way to prove the authenticity of a social media outlet is to link to it from your .gov domain and link to your .gov domain from your social media outlet.


Ensure that links to your social media outlets are visible on your .gov home page, or accessible from a first level section of your site. This will help people who find your social media outlet more easily confirm your authenticity when they visit your .gov domain.



  • USA.gov links directly to its Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts from its home page
  • NASA links to its many social media outlets on their “Collaborate” page.


Speak with a consistent voice and tone

Develop and use editorial guidelines to ensure that communications through social media outlets are consistent, authoritative, and support your mission.


Voice and tone of social media outlets will vary across agency and program. Examples:

  • The TSA Blog is written in an informal and friendly tone while demonstrating professionalism and providing frequent links and references to official information.
  • @EPAnews on Twitter consistently provides links to EPA press releases with press-release-friendly introductory language


Defend your intellectual property 

Become familiar with your agency’s trademarks and other intellectual property, and consult your attorneys if you encounter proprietary agency logos or trademarks on unauthorized sites or social media outlets.


A simple message notifying administrators of spoofing social media outlets that they are violating intellectual property laws may be enough to stop them.



Facebook authentication best practices




Twitter authentication best practices


  • Use a recognized, official and trademarked brand mark as your profile picture
  • Link to your .gov domain by entering it in the URL section of your user profile
  • Claim authenticity in the bio section of your profile
  • Use a custom background image to provide more information and claim authenticity (Figure 7)
  • Apply for a special “verified account” by writing to Twitter at http://twitter.com/account/verify_request



YouTube authentication best practices




Flickr authentication best practices


  • Use a recognized, official and trademarked brand mark as your profile picture
  • Claim authenticity in the information section of your profile page (see Library of Congress Example above)
  • Enter your .gov domain in the website section of your profile page, and consider using the custom HTML in your profile section to create links to your .gov domain
  • Enter a .gov email address in the contact section of your profile


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