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The Consumer Finance Cops Are on Your Tweet

Last week, the vaunted and controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) came quietly online. Their new website, ConsumerFinance.gov, portrays the new agency as new-school, social media aware, but also as Gotham-style old-fashioned cop.

Prominent on the site is an ode to–or massive rip-off of–YouTube phenomenon Jonathan Jarvis’ “The Crisis of Credit Visualized,” a clever animation which explains the financial crisis in two parts. The governments’ version uses the same graphics and simple, semi-monotone narration. I think it’s quite funny and media aware, if possibly lacking imagination (but it IS the government, after all). Check both out:

The site suggests they’re open to suggestions. And much to my surprise, they actually are. You can post on Facebook, on Twitter or in a handy field right on their site. Not just that, but there are even some responses, representing a giant leap in government which gets social media. Things like, “@missphenom Thanks for sharing! We like that idea.” Pretty cool.

On the darker side, I’m surprised the “Bureau,” as they like to be called, portrays itself as an old fashioned cop. Their badge emblem and the searchlights in the video invoke a graphic novel-type cop, which I associate with ineffectiveness and corruption. Or at best, as the Dunkin Doughnuts-munching type cop. I’m sure they had in mind something more “serve and protect”-style, like a hip, young FBI or something, but not present on their new site.

Still, kudos for an early website, with a memorable URL, actual and somewhat interactive social media integration, and enough content approachable by any-man (not government speak) to be a true citizen resource. If they Bureau itself could remain half that enlightened, it will do more good than harm in the form of unintended consequences.AST