By now, nearly everyone has seen this tweet from @CIA on their timeline. But what does this mean for the role of government on social media, and how are government bodies utilizing social media?
The Twitter Earthquake Dispatch allows people to be aware of an earthquake before it hits your area. One instance of Twitter allowing safety is when New Yorkers saw those in the D.C. area tweet about an earthquake before the waves hit New York.
The government also uses social media to inform the public about things such as garbage pick up, and to engage and gain information from the public.
The Vancouver police utilized social media after the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff riots in an attempt to gain information from the public. The police force has since attended a Social Media the Internet and Law Enforcement (SMILE) bootcamp. The officers have learned to engage with the public to get the most out of the use of social media.
The Twindex, used for the 2012 presidential election, correctly predicted the outcome of the election, while other polls had Romney coming out on top.
The Queensland Police have increased their social habits, engaging with others and creating a larger sense of community beyond the internet. Their Facebook page has nearly 500,000 followers, showing that a lot of people are interested in government on social media. A conservancy in Philadelphia uses Facebook to update community members on upcoming events and more.
While the four purposes of government on social media are useful and mostly positive, there are negatives to the situation. One example is the CIA attempting a humorous tweet about late rapper Tupac, which most people found offensive.
The New York Police Department attempted to engage their community by creating the hashtag #myNYPD to increase awareness of the positive things that the NYPD has done for New York. Instead, Twitter users lashed out with pictures depicting police brutality and violence.
These examples show, while government on social media can be very helpful, it can also hurt. Being careful about what you post and thinking about the consequences can help governments avoid negativity.
Is your government on social media? What roles do their profiles fill? Share your ideas of government agencies utilizing social by leaving us a comment below.