For a long time, I have been an advocate for the FDA to open up a Facebook page. There are a lot of reasons, but first and foremost is a recognition that social media has changed the way we communicate as a society, and part of FDA's job is to communicate and do so quickly with its stakeholders. For public health alerts and recalls and the like, moving the message out to "fans" who are willing to pick up your message and carry it onward to others is essential. It also ultimately adds a new dimension to FDA's transparency initiative.
And it isn't like there isn't interest in this topic. The FDA already has a large number of followers on some of its Twitter feeds and even the decidedly tame YouTube channel has a few thousand subscribers. And the United States Pharmacopeia has its own Facebook page.
And other federal agencies have Facebook pages. The United States Department of Justice has a quite developed one with over 7400 fans and a lot of materials, including a link to an entry about the Attorney General linking up with HHS to fight Medicare fraud.
I was surprised, then, today to discover a Facebook page for two federal health agencies. There is n0w a CMS page and a Food and Drug Administration page. Neither has anything on it, but they have "fans" – 81 for CMS and FDA is cleaning their clock with 524 fans. There is no info in the info tab, other than a Wikipedia entry describing each of the respective agencies. In fact, there are similar pages set up for HHS and the Department of Energy. FDA isn't doing bad to collect 524 fans while not having anything on the site.
At present, it is a mystery – at least to me. Did these agencies start pages or did someone do it for them? Are the feds setting up placeholders for agencies to eventually populate?
The FDA has no directory on its site, that I can find, that would provide a curious member of the public with links to the social media content generated by the agency. (And that, by the way, is another reco – there should be links on the landing page of the FDA site to the agency's highly under-publicized social media outlets).
But if this is not an official FDA venture, it should be, and the call is renewed for the agency to add to its social media portfolio. If anyone has any clues to the mystery, please post them!