House passes bill to boost DHS use of social media in emergencies

Legislation to establish Department of Homeland Security standards for emergency responses on social media during terrorist attacks passed in the House on Tuesday.

Passed 375-19, the bill would create a working group within DHS to provide guidance on the use of social media before, during and after terrorist attacks. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), the bill's sponsor, said it was necessary for the federal government to determine how to use social media, like Twitter and Facebook, most effectively to communicate with citizens.

"Social media is transforming the way the nation responds before, during and after a terrorist attack," Brooks said.

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.) gave examples of the use of social media among Americans during events like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings or Hurricane Sandy. For instance, some Bostoners created a Google document to let people participating in the marathon who were unable to return to their hotels know that their homes were open.

"The Internet has changed the world," Payne said.

The measure would also require the group to submit an annual report to Congress that includes a review of current social media technologies used to support emergency preparedness and response activities and recommendations to DHS on its use of social media in such situations.