Just before the start of spring break, Penn State announced the creation of a second university-controlled Twitter account, @penn_state. This new account is in addition to the longstanding @pennstatelive account that has become a popular addition to Penn Stater’s feeds.
Intrigued as to why the University would create a second account when it already had a popular one to begin with, I contacted the Penn State Department of Public Information to find out more.
It turns out that @penn_state is controlled by members of the Department of Public Information, unlike the automated headline-puller @pennstatelive. Annemarie Mountz, University Spokesperson, said in an email that “we post things we find to be of interest to that account [@penn_state], whether or not there is a Penn State connection.”
This is all well and good, but I feel that the University has “taken a step too far in the right direction,” to quote another Onward State editor, with their new Twitter account. The University should have a Twitter presence beyond that of an automated news account, but they need to take care to ensure that the voice of Penn State doesn’t become too much like a personal account and maintains the level of professionalism that is to be expected of a major research institution. The account has shown some eccentricities, retweeting posts that are tangentially related to Penn State at best, and posting some things that are downright bizarre (see above image).
That being said, the account is very young and is likely to go through some growing pains.