Should State Agencies Use Facebook?

April 2010
You might be friends with the University of Colorado-Boulder on Facebook. Or maybe the Colorado Department of Transportation. Or any of a handful of other state-run pages on the popular social-networking site. And while you'll find Colorado Attorney General John Suthers on Facebook, you won't find Suthers' office on the site. That's because the attorney general is concerned about the risks involved. Agencies on the site may be open to increased legal liabilities, Mike Saccone, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, tells Boulder's Daily Camera. No agency or department has been ordered to remove their Facebook page as a result of a concern-filled memo issued from Suthers' office, but Facebook's terms and conditions say the social-networking site would not be held responsible for any legal action taken against a Facebook user. "They would be agreeing to possible legal expenses on behalf of another entity," Saccone says. "That raises constitutional issues with regards to appropriations." Stacey Stegman, a spokeswoman for the transportation department, points out that the AG's warnings have created some apprehension: "A couple [agencies] were getting ready to launch them. It was more of a, 'Hold off, don't create any new ones until we figure out some of these issues.'" She tells Westword, however, that her department has no plans at the moment to eliminate its Facebook page.