Virginia opened new Facebook and Twitter accounts on Oct. 18 to keep citizens informed about public safety. The Office of the Secretary of Public Safety opened the social media accounts, which will be used to provide citizens and public safety workers with current information during disasters or general information to keep people safe.

“Getting the word out quickly during natural and man-made disasters and sharing information about how to keep loved ones safe is a vital component of protecting the public,” said Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker. “Virginians can now sign up through these social media tools to receive up-to-the-minute updates about various public safety issues in the Commonwealth. These social media forums provide us with additional ways to get important information out to Virginians, and have direct contact with citizens in order to help keep them safe and informed. These new tools also provide us the ability to broadcast important messages and information to local first responders, private and volunteer organizations, as well as other local, state and federal partners.”

The social media accounts will also give the state the opportunity to interact with citizens who want to reply to messages, begin conversations or share their own information. The commonwealth's decision to focus more resources on social media comes at a time when many local and state government agencies are embracing social media. Likewise, a recent study found that police departments have shifted their attitudes when it comes to social media, with 92 percent of agencies claiming to use social media sites.