Committee Approves Plans for DHS Social Media Group

Gil C/

The group would assess the best ways to use social media before, during and after terrorist attacks or other emergencies.

The Department of Homeland Security might soon be hiring Twitter experts.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday passed a bill that directs DHS to establish a Social Media Working Group to assess how the technology can be used in disaster response. 

The Social Media Working Group Act of 2015 amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (which established the department) to include the new group, to be led by the undersecretary for science and technology. Introduced last January, the bill was passed by the House in February. 

The group, the bill says, would review social media technology that could help DHS handle response before, during and after terrorist attacks and other emergencies, and communicate with other emergency responders.

It would also provide recommendations on disseminating information through social media during emergencies, training for federal, state, local and tribal officials, and efforts to work with the private sector to resolve privacy and security concerns.  

The Social Media Working Group would meet twice a year, and would include not fewer than three representatives from the private sector, according to the bill's text. Those representatives would be from state, local, federal and tribal governments, as well as from nonprofit disaster-relief organizations, emergency responders and academia, among other sectors. 

(Image via Gil C/