NASA's Confusing Policy on Social Media Accounts

Keith's note: NASA has lots of Twitter accounts and websites - more than any other Federal agency - by far. But as NASA PAO AA David Weaver recently said at a NASA Advisory Council EPO Subcommittee (and I paraphrase) "clearly quantity does not always equal quality". Virtually every NASA project, program, center - and mission - has at least one (sometimes more) Twitter account and website. In the case of Mars Science Laboratory NASA pays to maintain 3 (or 4 depending on how you count) websites for MSL - and they do not seem to think this is wasteful.

But what about the New Horizons mission to Pluto?

If you go to the JHUAPL New Horizons website they link to @NewHorizons2015 as the official mission Twitter account. If you go to NASA's Social Media accounts page they also link to the @NewHorizons2015 as the official mission Twitter account. Curiously, the other official New Horizons page at NASA doesn't link to anything - including the JHUAPL New Horizons website. Meanwhile, despite being cited as a the official mission Twitter account, if you go to the @NewHorizons2015 home page the description claims that this Twitter account is the "private Twitter feed" of the mission's principal investigator. Apparently, there is no official NASA Twitter feed for New Horizons. Or there is. No one seems to be sure.

NASA loves Twitter so much that there are even two official (and very popular) NASA Twitter accounts that the agency maintains for Voyager 1 and 2: @NASAVoyager and @NASAVoyager2 - two spacecraft that were launched in the 1970s.

But curiously, a $700 million spacecraft currently heading for Pluto (and beyond) doesn't warrant an official NASA Twitter account? Where is the official NASA policy on things like this? I'll save you the effort: there is none - and whatever fragmentary policies are in place at NASA are routinely ignored. And no one at NASA seems to be inclined to fix this situation. The NAC Education and Public Outreach Committee has beat their collective heads against the wall on this issue for years. The best that NASA can do is admit that they have a point. And then the agency complains when its Education and Outreach and web development budgets get cut. Go figure.

At the recent NAC EPO subcommittee meeting David Weaver tried to put a positive spin on the cuts by saying that they forced NASA to deal with things that they hadn't really been forced to confront before. Maybe more cuts are in order since this issue of strategic and efficient use of Internet resources clearly does not have NASA's full and undivided attention yet.

- Why Does NASA Maintain Three (Four) Different MSL Websites?
- NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online, earlier post

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 25, 2013 3:05 PM.

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