But when that strange posting comes from an established city government page, it’s certainly cause to raise an eyebrow.
So alarms went off when the City of Sacramento’s Facebook page posted:
“Michael Crabtree signs 6 year deal with San Francisco 49ers. Will 49er fans embrace or despise him?”
How is this possibly relevant to the betterment of the city of Sacramento?
I immediately called the city’s Information Technology Department to get the scoop on why Sacramento would post something so extraneous.
So what’s the explanation?
I spoke with Diane Hartline, the e-Government Manager for Sacramento, who immediately set things straight.
Turns out, the City of Sacramento Facebook page is an imposter.
“It is not the blessed page,” Hartline said.
It is not official, and is in no way operated by city officials. In fact, Sacramento doesn’t even have an official Facebook page at this time.
“The city was talking about using Facebook and discovered this page that is already there,” Hartline said. “There is nothing bad on it, but it is not an official page.”
It’s worrisome though. Who is running this page and what agenda are they serving? In this case, it doesn’t seem like anything more than someone enjoying the platform. But it is troublesome, isn’t it?
The page gives every indication that it is official, listing the city’s 3-1-1 number and the official Sacramento Web site on the page. Although a small disclaimer does read, “The content of this page is provided by individuals and entities unaffiliated with the City of Sacramento, its Officers or Departments.”
An e-mail to the administrator of the Facebook page was returned on Wednesday evening. The responder confirmed that there is no official affiliation with the city of Sacramento but that those who run the page have a good working relationship with a number of civic organizations in the city, from the Sacramento Downtown Partnership, the Metro Chamber and the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Hartline said she is working with Facebook to move the imposter page to another address to give the city the rightful name of “www.facebook.com/CityofSacramento.”
The situation motivated the city to go to Twitter and reserve all the Twitter addresses it might use.
“Mostly to make sure they don’t fall in the wrong hands,” Hartline said.
It’s imperative that local governments take advantage of Government 2.0, communicating through user-friendly Web sites and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
But the information given must be relevant and accurate.
It’s disconcerting that a fraud site could mislead the public with whatever message it wishes to convey.
If your city or county is the victim of an imposter on Facebook or Twitter, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org