H.R. 623, Social Media Working Group Act of 2015

H.R. 623

Social Media Working Group Act of 2015

Date
February 2, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, February 2, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 623, the Social Media Working Group Act of 2015, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 623 was introduced on January 30, 2015 by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and referred to the Committees on Homeland Security and Transportation and Infrastructure.

Bill Summary

H.R. 623 is substantively identical to H.R. 4263, the Social Media Working Group Act of 2014, legislation that previously passed in the House on July 8, 2014 by a vote of 375-19.  (See Roll Call #369)

H.R. 623 authorizes the Department of Homeland Security’s Virtual Social Media Working Group.  This legislation is not creating a new program, but simply authorizing an already existing working group overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.  H.R. 623 further enhances the Virtual Social Media Working Group to provide guidance and best practices on the use of social media before, during, and after a terrorist attack or other emergency.  The working group is to be comprised of a cross-section of subject matter experts from federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental organization practitioners.  Additional qualified individuals must also be appointed, including representatives from the private sector, law enforcement, fire services, emergency management services, public health entities, universities, and nonprofit disaster relief organizations.  H.R. 623 requires the working group to submit an annual report on current and emerging trends, best practices, and recommendations on improving the use of social media for emergency management purposes.

Background

As social media continues to permeate American society, first responders and disaster survivors are altering the way they communicate before, during, and after emergencies.  During recent disasters such as the Boston Marathon Bombings and Superstorm Sandy, the public increasingly turned to Facebook and Twitter for information.[1]  In light of this new reality, H.R. 623 requires the Department of Homeland Security to analyze lessons learned, and begin to develop guidance and best practices for utilizing this emerging technology.

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[1] House Committee Report 113-480, at 3.

Cost

According to CBO estimates conducted for identical legislation in the 113th Congress, implementing H.R. 623 would cost less than $500,000 each year, subject to appropriations.  This legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.