Potential benefits of social media in a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) event
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Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) can come in multiple forms. Regardless of their nature being chemical, biological, nuclear, or high explosives, their use will disrupt normalcy and governance of nations. Application of WMDs is no longer an improbability, and life sciences can be easily manipulated to produce a biological WMD. If a biological WMD is unleashed, strategic communications will be a critical facet for its management. In mass casualty situations, the medium of social media and social networks may offer communications solutions to institutions of public health and emergency preparedness to mitigate the consequences of biological WMDs. This study conducted a qualitative review of strategic communications preparedness in three levels of government; federal, state, and local institutions of public health and security. The findings show that public health and emergency preparedness agencies are preparing themselves to leverage new media systems, specifically Twitter and Facebook, as channels for strategic communications. Overall, this study found the three tiers of government complementary in their collective vision managing the communications challenges of WMD events. Modeling this study may suggest further studies in the field of strategic communications in such a way to measure the progress of integrating social media and social networks for WMD-related crisis communications.
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