Sad Government Accounts of Instagram

These federal agency feeds will not be gramming during the government shutdown.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Oct. 2, 2013, 8:33 a.m.

First they came for the Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment’s In­s­tagram ac­count, but we did not speak out be­cause we fol­low the In­teri­or De­part­ment.

On mid­night Tues­day morn­ing the U.S. gov­ern­ment began shut­ter­ing its web­sites along with its Face­book, Twit­ter, and In­s­tagram ac­counts, ap­par­ently in­cit­ing Amer­ic­an out­rage.

“An ab­so­lute dis­grace,” said user @johnjw8 in a com­ment for In­teri­or’s In­s­tagram feed. “So de­press­ing!” ad­ded @what­jordie­sees. “Es­pe­cially on the date of Yosemite’s an­niversary :’(“

A sur­vey of which U.S. gov­ern­ment agency web­sites would be go­ing dark and which would stay in op­er­a­tion dur­ing the shut­down re­veals a strange mish­mash. The com­pre­hens­ive list, which in­cludes in­form­a­tion about wheth­er gov­ern­ment sites are up or down, and what, if any, no­tice they are giv­ing to their vis­it­ors, is well worth vis­it­ing.

Post­ing up­dates is more work than, say, simply ceas­ing to main­tain an ac­count. And the ex­cel­lent Tom Lee over at the Sun­light Found­a­tion notes that the gov­ern­ment has stip­u­lated sites must be shut down re­gard­less of wheth­er do­ing so is more ex­pens­ive than keep­ing them on­line. From the rel­ev­ant Q&A sec­tion of the Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Budget’s memo:

What if the cost of shut­ting down a web­site ex­ceeds the cost of main­tain­ing ser­vices?

The de­term­in­a­tion of which ser­vices con­tin­ue dur­ing an ap­pro­pri­ations lapse is not af­fected by wheth­er the costs of shut­down ex­ceed the costs of main­tain­ing ser­vices.

The ques­tion then be­comes, why is the gov­ern­ment both­er­ing? Per­haps post­ing sad mes­sages on so­cial me­dia is an im­port­ant gov­ern­ment tool for ral­ly­ing cit­izens. In which case, per­haps we’re simply do­ing the gov­ern­ment’s PR work for it with this roundup of the sad­dest shut­down mes­sages from gov­ern­ment In­s­tagram ac­counts.

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