One Nation, Under Tweets
The U.S. federal government puts out a massive, MASSIVE amount of information each day on Twitter. Most of our nation's 535 members of Congress use Twitter, along with their key staff members, Congressional committees, and the sprawling federal bureaucracy comprising thousands of agencies and sub-agencies. We spend our days combing through and organizing this purple mountain majesty of data so you don't have to.
But really, there are some government Twitter accounts that you should be following, because the information they provide is important and useful to just about everyone living inside these 50 states. Among the government's many responsibilities are keeping we the people safe, healthy, and
secure. And that is where we focused our attention in selecting 22 feeds to follow.
In compiling this list, we spoke with a number of public affairs officials in government, tapped into OhMyGov's government media monitoring database, searched Twitter far and wide, and scoured federal government websites for social media accounts (shame on .gov sites that don't yet publish their Twitter directory!) We paid particular attention to feeds that delivered a steady --- but not overwhelming --- stream of useful posts meant for consumption by the general public. The feeds we selected are largely free of the self-referential press release postings that plague some government social media. Twitter users don't want to see their stream dominated by dull or dire government warnings and alerts, so we kept the list to 22 feeds that we think are worth following no matter who you are or where you live.
No list like this is ever complete, so we welcome your comments and suggestions. And please add @ohmygov and our fed expert @bureaupat to your Twitter --- we too will help keep you safe, healthy, secure...and entertained!
--- The Editors
22 Gov't Twitter Feeds For Staying Safe, Healthy and Secure
Few things are as terrifying as the prospect of a disease outbreak or pandemic. Even with natural disasters, it's often the spread of disease in the aftermath that compounds the catastrophe. Follow this feed from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention for information on how to stay safe --- before, during and after public health
Sample Tweet: "After tornado or natural disaster, wreckage
left behind poses injury risks. Protect yourself/family with these tips: http://go.usa.gov/jef"
This FEMA-led account
takes a broader view of preparedness for emergencies, informs users how to best be "ready" for all manners of catastrophe, everything
from hurricanes to terrorist attacks are covered in an effort to raise awareness
and promote safety.
Sample Tweet: "When preparing you family, notify caregivers
& babysitters about your communications plan, as well as anyone else
included in it."
The National Hurricane
Center's Miami-based feed provides "analyses, forecasts, and warnings of
hazardous tropical weather to protect lives and property," along the Atlantic
and Gulf coasts. This feed is a must for anyone living or vacationing in
Sample Tweet: "2 pm EDT
Tropical Weather Outlook issued. #twoat http://hurricanes.gov/gtwo_atl.shtml"
The Federal Emergency Management
Agency has several official Twitter feeds (including this one from
Director Craig Fugate), but for right now we'll stick with the main line. Emergency
preparedness info of all stripes can be found here, from tips on how to stay
hydrated in the summer heat to wildfire safety tips.
Sample Tweet: "#Summer officially begins
today - learn how you can stay safe before, during & after the season's
The Consumer Product Safety
Commission's official Twitter feed lets followers know of product recalls.
Whereas the USDA and FDA recall pages focus on food and/or medical products,
the CPSC focuses on all manner of products from toys to clothing.
Sample Tweet: "Britax recalls B-Nimble stroller due to brake
#moms #dads #parents"
We'll say it... highways are death traps. U.S. highways are some of the safest in the world, but even as we see advances in vehicle and road design, new bad behaviors such as texting-while-driving emerge to keep our roads sufficiently lethal. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration operates this feed to share news and safety tips to get us there and back in one piece. A feed worth following, but only when you're not behind the wheel.
Sample Tweet: "500th child died after being left alone in a car. Never leave your child unattended. Tips here: "
The official feed of the State
Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs is tasked with giving out travel
advisories to Americans in particularly unstable corners of the globe,
particularly the Middle East and certain parts of Africa.
If you plan on traveling abroad it would definitely be worth a follow.
Sample Tweet: "#Sudan #Travel Warning goo.gl/f4ocW"
The U.S. Geological Survey's official
account is a prime source for information on volcano activity, earthquakes and tsunamis in the U.S. and worldwide.
Sample Tweet: "Having a blast - Earth's #volcanic activity never
ceases! Check the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report at: http://bit.ly/lkxanb"
Far too many Americans are injured on the job each year, so we think it's only smart to keep up with what the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is saying on their Twitter feed. The institute is part of the CDC and HHS, and posts a useful array of safety tips, statistics and news. At a half-dozen or so a day, the number of posts are on the upper end of what we consider optimal frequency, but hey, it's dangerous out there so there is a lot to cover.
Sample Tweet: "Fire fighters may be at risk for crash-related injuries while operating excess and other surplus vehicles "
The Food and Drug
Administration's recall feed lets users know of pending product recalls for
food and medical products. It is a straightforward concept, but certainly one
that can save you a whole lot of heartache (and heartburn) or worse if you keep
an eye on it.
Sample Tweet: "Dole Fresh Vegetables Announces Precautionary
Recall of Limited Number of Italian Blend Salads: Dole Fresh Ve... http://1.usa.gov/lUrF95"
This feed from the Dept. of Health and Human Services' FoodSafety.gov web effort was borne out of the
massive 2009 peanut butter recall and lets users know not only of recalls but
important kitchen safety tips, such as ways to avoid food poisoning during those
inevitable summer cookouts.
Sample Tweet: "Salmonella is a Sneaky Germ: Seven Tips for
Safer Eating http://go.usa.gov/DHt
This HHS-maintained feed
offers tips and information on all aspects of health care. From dietary tips to
information on how to get free screenings and check-ups, this feed is truly
indispensable for anyone wanting an all-encompassing health feed.
Sample Tweet: "Take advantage of free cancer screenings
under the Affordable Care Act. http://t.co/sv7W0Cq
The official feed for the HHS
Office of Women's Health is a great resource for nutrition advice, feminine hygiene,
reproductive medicine, and other aspects of women's health.
Sample Tweet: "Ever wonder if there is a "best" form of
birth control? http://go.usa.gov/jS2"
This CDC feed
releases information on how to prevent and combat that most dreaded of medical
foes...the flu. Stay aware of how the seasonal bug is spreading and of especially virulent strains like H1N1 by following this feed. (Consider also following the CDC's feeds on other specific ailments such
as hepatitis and STDs.)
Sample Tweet: "Number of states reporting widespread flu activity
increased to 25; regional flu activity reported by 16 states. http://go.usa.gov/YNF"
by the National Library of Medicine, this feed is a source of "the latest news on health
and medicine." With typical bureaucratic "CYA", the Twitter bio for this page says that tweets should not be taken as
medical advice. For WebMD-addicted hypochondriacs, this sort of thing can be
Sample Tweet: "Looking to get your weight under control?
Learn which foods might sabotage your efforts http://1.usa.gov/igYFQE"
This feed, maintained by the Department of Agriculture,
acts as a key resource for nutritional education aimed at families and kids.
Food facts and recipe ideas promote healthy eating habits and serve a great
Sample Tweet: "It's never too hot for chili! Seasonal summer
veggies taste great in our vegetarian chili recipe: http://t.co/OMYmoNt"
This Dept. of Homeland Security feed
covers cyber threats, and the responses they garner from DHS. If your occupation or life is as computer-based as ours, you definitely want to stay on top of the ever-increasing and -evolving digital threats.
Sample Tweet: "RIM Releases Security Advisory for BlackBerry
PlayBook: RIM has released a security advisory to address vulne... http://1.usa.gov/ksgzlR"
The bureau's press shop has
a Twitter feed that provides updates on everything from recent arrests to
information on wanted fugitives. If you don't think the information on this
page can directly effect you, just go and ask the folks in Santa
Monica who were living down the hall from the most
wanted man in America,
"Whitey" Bulger, whose capture was announced here.
Sample Tweet: "Boston FBI Agents launch new effort to track
down James "Whitey'' Bulger. Looking for his girlfriend, Catherine E.Greig. http://t.co/m2P1noI"
The official feed for Customs and Border Protection provides information regarding border
security and law enforcement efforts along all of the nation's borders. As one
may expect the coverage seems to focus mainly on the U.S./Mexican border, but
ports and the northern border are also addressed. The CBP also seems to be
quite good about answering questions asked by followers, always a welcome sight
on a federal feed.
Sample Tweet: "News: CBP's unmanned aircraft is providing
support to Arizona firefighters."
The Securities and Exchange
Commission's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy maintains a page that
anyone considering taking their chances in the stock market should probably
start following. Advice, warnings, and tips are all provided here...things you
probably need even if you have convinced yourself that you are the next Warren
Sample Tweet: "SEC Proposes Ways
to Strengthen Audits and Reporting of Broker-Dealers to Protect Customer
Financial security is a not-to-be ignored part of staying secure, and any talk of finances naturally leads to questions about taxes. The official feed of the
IRS's Taxpayer Advocate Service serves as the place where taxpayers can ask
questions and get answers regarding their taxes. Filing tips, advice, and explanations of the
always draconian tax code can be found here. This is definitely a feed to keep
an eye on when tax season rolls around.
Sample Tweet: "#Tax credits can help make #education more affordable.
Find out if you qualify. bit.ly/gFNbHb"
From the Consumer Finance Protection Board, this Twitter feed helps Americans make sense of the array of consumer financial products out there. If you're intimidated by a mortgage disclosure form (you should be!) or other banking, investing and credit offerings, you will find help in the occasional postings from the folks at CFPB.
Sample Tweet: "Over 10,000 people have weighed in on a single, simpler mortgage disclosure. Have you? Three days left! "