Monday morning with DHS

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09/28/2009
Many of you know I've been giving this Twitter thing a go lately. I thought it worked out well at the ASIS show - I thought I posted some interesting tidbits in a way that wouldn't have fit either the blog or long-form story-writing (my reports on the location of kegs of beer on the show floor were particularly riveting), and I picked up some cool stuff from other posters there (I first heard of the Gallagher-to-GE letter via a Tweet). (Insert shameless plug here: Follow me at www.twitter.com/sam_pfeifle.) Anyway, I've spent some time cruising around Twitter trying to get my feed filled up with people who have interesting information to disperse. I thought the Department of Homeland Security might be good to pick up, especially since I generally find their RSS feed, which you can follow in the lower left-hand corner of our home page, to be fairly valuable. However, when I found them, I was a little disappointed. I think maybe they lost an intern or something. Check it out: http://twitter.com/HomelandSecurit. First of all, the lack of a "y" at the end is disconcerting. I'm sure it's because that's all the letters you can have or something, but go with another handle if that's the case. The missing "y" just makes you look like a typo. And then, when you actually check their page out, it's kind of pathetic. Sure, they've got 15,000+ followers, which kicks my ass, but friggin' Ashton Kutcher is at 3.7 million and counting. Shouldn't the DHS be able to top Ashton Kutcher? And while you may dismiss Twitter as frivolity, does anyone else have a better way for the DHS to directly message the average citizen about a homeland security threat they need to be aware of? Is there a better tip-line? This is a golden opportunity, and not only is DHS not bothering to get people signed up, but it uses its tweets to tell us if the threat level for flying is orange or yellow (i.e., meaningless or meaningless), and hasn't posted since June. The Twitter feed for Ready.gov is a little better in terms of updates and information, but has fewer than 5,000 followers, which makes it mostly a waste of time in the grand scheme of things. Maybe Twitter isn't the be-all, end-all, but if random celebrities have the time and energy and resources to gather millions of followers, surely the U.S. government does (not generally known for their efficiency with human resources, or resources of any sort). And it has a clear utility. So what's the problem?

Comments

Sam, compare these to the TSA blog and Twitter feed:
http://twitter.com/TSABlogTeam

Big difference in the execution--even within the same command. Just goes to show it's not the tools but the people using them.

Thanks for the heads up, Steve. The TSA blog has improved since I last looked at it a while ago. They've been posting more frequently.

Sam,

Good article and point regarding the lack of tweets coming from DHS. Even Barack himself posts a message every three or four days...http://twitter.com/BARACKOBAMA with 2.3M followers. That's just a few more than Ashton's account! I thought we had a Prez that was technology-savvy and promoted the digital age? Agreed, it couldn't cost too much money to pay a 20-something college grad to update the DHS tweets two or three times a month. -ML