The list of government waste, scandal, and secrecy seems to be mounting, with news this week of a recent governmental order requiring Verizon to provide the National Security Agency with classified information on calls made through the service. What’s more, trust in the media is at an all time low, with 60 percent of independent voters reporting to have little or no trust in the mass media.
Recognizing the need for honest, investigative reporting, some organizations are turning to technology to spread the truth. Last week, we focused on California agencies tweeting their way to transparency. This week, here is a list of the top 5 national organizations advancing transparency on Twitter.
1. Sunlight Foundation @SunFoundation
With over 25,000 followers, the Sunlight Foundation embodies the spirit of transparency on Twitter. Posting links to their website, sharing facts about spending, and providing resources that promote open government, Sunlight Foundation digs deep and shares their findings in 140 characters or less. Most recently, they have not only been active in sharing information on the publicized governmental scandals, but also in shedding light on issues not being reported on in the mainstream media, like this:
While Jordan receives $670M in US aid, it's censoring 300 media websites – will this press crackdown be ignored? http://t.co/vumw0XZ5ED
— Sunlight Foundation (@SunFoundation) June 5, 2013
The group even use its Twitter to push its Google Plus community, which in the social media world, deserves a plus one.
2. Center for Effective Government @ForEffectiveGov
What sets @ForEffectiveGov apart from most organizations on Twitter is the frequency at which it posts. Tweeting about once every hour, the organization shares articles from their website and important information from across the Internet. They retweet their followers and other organizations, and recently live-tweeted the Jobs Emergency conference.
Some other topics covered recently on the account: fracking, military whistleblowers, chemical safety bill, EU trade agreement, and the UN on the need for transparency in government.
3. Center for Responsive Politics @OpenSecretsDC
The account for the Center for Responsive Politics is one of the loudest voices on Twitter when it comes to dark money. Pushing its campaign spending research on the social network, @OpenSecretsDC has been effective in sharing tools and information about dark money and campaign spending long after the 2012 elections.
— OpenSecrets.org (@OpenSecretsDC) June 5, 2013
Furthermore, the organization shares updates about its staff, retweets photos of events, and live-tweets conferences relating to dark money.
4. MapLight @MapLight
MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that “provides journalists and citizens with transparency tools that connects data on campaign contributions, politicians, legislative votes, industries, and companies,” effectively uses the platform to share updates from other organizations covering transparency on Twitter.
With a focus on California and Wisconsin, MapLight recently tweeted to California lawmakers about the DISCLOSE Act thanking them for their vote towards increased transparency in campaign spending.
— MapLight (@MapLight) May 28, 2013
While the organization has a relatively small following, it has gained attention from other accounts spreading transparency on Twitter, recently being retweeted by @OpenSecretsDC.
5. GovTrack.us @govtrack
Much like @ForEffectiveGov, the Twitter account for GovTrack.us provides a constant flow of information on the activities of Congress, tweeting about upcoming bills and delving into the text of each bill. @Govtrack also makes it a point to mention relevant lawmakers in its tweets, sharing tweets from journalists, agencies, lawmakers, and citizens who are talking about congressional activities.
Its commitment to engaging with its followers and thanking users who use and share GovTrack.us is reflected in the plethora of tweets responding to users.
Want to learn more about transparency on Twitter? Check out the Top 5 California Agencies Advancing Transparency on Twitter.
Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.
There is NO reliable data. All of it tainted by greed. Koch buys news media and twists facts, Government issues lies / disavows truth / persecutes honesty / slants data for political real estate.
Great article. I love a good list. I will echo Lucas, though. Some issues are best resolved behind closed doors so the media cannot filter it through the sensationalization machine. There is a tough balance between no information, and misinformation.
Maplight and Open Secrets have definitely been go-to sources for me and they're even more effective when they're active on social networks like twitter. Transparency is something the news cycle doesn't always reveal, these organizations are vital to keeping up with current events.
I feel like a paranoid conspiracist when I talk about these latest scandals. It is interesting how they all popped up at once, but some of it was all a part of a long investigative effort by various news sources, of of which is a London newspaper. One scandal regarding "data mining" opened up to finding more scandals. The effort by these groups is great, but government transparency is far from what where it should be.
Here's some reliable data, from someone who was on the inside. He will say the same thing that some of us have been saying for 10 years. Your government is spying on you. Both parties are the same, both of them are bought by the same companies and industries. Obama said one thing, did the opposite. He is Bush 3.0. It is only going to get worse, because they are not stopping and reversing the damage, they are multiplying it!
"I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you, or your accountant, to a federal judge, to even the President if I had a personal email. "
"Later in the interview, he explains why the people who say "I don't care, because I've got nothing to hide" are complete and total idiots:
"Because even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it's getting to the point where you don't have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call. And then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made. Every friend you've ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis, to derive suspicion from an innocent life, and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer."
Read them all simply to get all of the viewpoints, then decide for yourself... Read overseas papers. BBC, RT, AJ, etc. Read leak and whistleblower reports. Wiki*leaks*, 4chan political, infowars, freedomhouse and the EFF. Read Thomas to see the bills, be sure to check their voting records as well.. Read anything you can really, because you won't be able to for long.
And it's important to take note of how people use this information...what good is information if it will only be taken out of context by the mainstream media?
It's only a conspiracy if you are wrong. Unfortunately, not much these days is "actual" conspiracy, most is just devious, often illegal actions done behind the curtain of public knowledge, and what the majority of the public doesn't know, they don't seem to care about. And anyone who knows more than them is "crazy" or "extremist". Good times ahead indeed....
I agree, these groups are doing a terrific job. However, I am always a little dubious about how much transparency is good transparency. There art of governing as always relied on negotiation and you cannot do every negotiation publicly because nobody will really make compromise. I don't have a solution but I think we should sometimes question if our cult of transparency is really serving us the best.
Because the people need direct access to the information, NOT simply whatever the government feeds the media. That's the entire point. If the government posts the information publicly, then his point is irrelevant, and all information can be disclosed, because there will be no sensationalism machine in the middle. Start requiring bills to be written in plain prose rather than legaleez and the media wouldn't be able to twist plain English.
Interesting point -- in my opinion, transparency in campaign finance and public functions of our elected officials (like Congressional activities) should undoubtably be made available to the public. When dealing with issues that could have an impact on national security, then it gets tricky.