Nearly a month after the Colorado Attorney General's Office joined Facebook, the agency still has only fourteen "likes" — and it's easy to understand why. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers hasn't exactly been a friend to the social-networking site.
Back in April, the AG warned other state agencies that their Facebook pages could put them at risk of lawsuits because of an "indemnity clause" that users have to agree to when they sign up; Suthers had determined that Facebook's terms and conditions concerning legal matters violated the Colorado Constitution.
While Suthers himself continued to support his own page during his run for re-election, the AG's office put its own efforts to start a page on hold and advised other agencies to consider doing the same thing. At the time, there were hundreds of existing Facebook pages dedicated to state agencies, primarily colleges and universities.
But early this month, Suthers announced that his office — after fifteen months of negotiations — had come to an agreement with Facebook over the troublesome clause that was contained in its terms and conditions. In fact, Colorado led the negotiations for thirteen other states as well. "We look forward to continuing to work with Facebook and starting a new dialogue with the people of Colorado through the company's website," Suthers said on January 6. "Social media is a great way to keep the public apprised of the important work that we and other public entities do on behalf of the people of Colorado."
That same day, the Colorado Attorney General's Office went live with its Facebook page. But so far, it hasn't exactly been a fruitful endeavor. The office has posted only press releases and notices about Suthers appearing on radio shows. There haven't been any updates about middle-of-the-night existential crises, family photos or even a single cool YouTube video. In fact, no one has made a comment on the AG's wall.
Maybe everyone's over on Twitter.
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I, Robot: Then again, the AG isn't the only public agency with a boring Facebook page. Westword's Jef Otte recently mined Facebook for "I friended the Department of Corrections: A look at Facebook's most boring fan pages," a post on showandtelldenver.com. While Otte gave a high score to the efforts of the Colorado Springs Police Department, he called the Denver Police Department's Facebook page "utterly worthless."
There was nothing, for example, about that amazing incident on December 1, when the DPD's bomb squad cordoned off part of 20th Street near Coors Field for four hours before blowing up a "suspicious" plastic robot that had been cemented to the base of a bridge. According to DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson, the police were never able to determine who was responsible. Lee Herndon, co-founder of the Lovers of Fresh Ideas artists' coalition, doesn't know the culprit, either, but he's determined that the robot be remembered.
"I have no idea who put the robot there," Herndon says. "No one will admit to it — and for good reason now. But it says a lot about the culture of fear we live in that we have created an environment where we think this is normal. It was a beautiful piece of unscripted performance art. And that is not to poke fun at the police. It's to poke fun at all of us that this was a reasonable response to a plastic robot."
Herndon and friends spent hours searching the web, comparing the picture that appeared in the Denver Post to toy robots. The result was a positive match for something called the Rad 2.0, a radio-controlled robot made by the ToyMax Company."If a terrorist gets me with a plastic robot under a bridge that looks like that, I will laugh all the way," he promises.