This story has been updated to reflect new information from the General Services Administration. An earlier version said that public access to the social media registry wouldn’t be available until next spring.
The public can now verify whether a Google+ page is legit and whether the IRS really is on Pinterest.
The GSA has put together a one-stop shop for federal agencies, elected officials (but not campaign accounts) and programs that manage official LinkedIn pages, Meetup groups or Twitter feeds to register all of those accounts in a governmentwide database.
Social media sites are hosted on commercial domains and lack the telltale .gov or .mil domain tags that help the public know they are visiting a legitimate government site, the GSA said in a statement Thursday.
GSA officials hope the registry will provide a better picture of how federal agencies are using social media. The governmentwide registry also eliminates the need for individual departments and offices to create their own saving money and offering a one-stop-shop to manage official accounts, the GSA said.
Federal agencies can register their pages and handles now at HowTo.gov. The social media uses open source code that can be seen at GitHub.com. And the GSA is working with Sunlight Labs, Code for America, Expert Labs, and FederalRegister.gov to provide an open, sharable registry.