The General Services Administration (GSA) has authorized Pinterest for use by federal agencies after striking a deal with the pinboard-style social network. The government continues to embrace social media — as long as sites are willing to play by slightly different rules when dealing with the government:
Pinterest marks the 62nd agreement with social media providers and joins the growing list of other social media tools that agencies have actively been using for several years, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others. GSA coordinates negotiations on behalf of other federal agencies to enable appropriate use. These federal-compatible Terms of Service agreements modify or remove problematic clauses in standard agreements, and enable agencies to use these tools.
Why, exactly, does the government need the terms of service altered in order for agencies to take part in social media? According to HowTo.gov, a website dedicated to helping agencies deliver better service to American citizens, most free web products aren’t ready for government use because of existing federal laws:
To meet this need, a coalition of federal agencies, led by GSA, works with a broad range of providers of no-cost social media products to develop amended, federally compatible TOS agreements.
Read Federal-Compatible Terms of Service Agreements on HowTo.gov.
Check out a list of all the websites HowTo.gov has already approved for federal use. The list includes most of the popular social networks but also includes the commenting tool Disqus, the software development website GitHub, the video sharing platform YouTube and the internal social network Yammer. Tools like this provide government agencies with direct access to the same resources that private companies use to interact and collaborate with customers. Because almost all of these services are free, the time spent amending their terms of service is well worth it in the long run.