- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 2, 2016

The FBI on Friday officially launched the bureau’s first Spanish-language social media account in an effort to more effectively interact with the million-plus native speakers residing in and around Houston, Texas.

“In the global environment we live in, social media is the preferred method of communication for a large number of our population, both young and old. Social media has become a principal source for news and information,” said Perrye K. Turner, a special agent in charge at the FBI Houston Field Office. “It makes perfect sense for us to expand our use of social media to engage the public we serve, including the Spanish-speaking social media users.”

More than one-third of Houston’s roughly 2 million residents speak Spanish, according to a 2013 report published by the city’s Planning and Development Department, and the results of a Pew Research Center survey released the following year suggested roughly a quarter of Hispanics adults who are online use Twitter.

With tens of millions of Spanish speakers currently residing in the United States, however, the “@miFBIHouston” Twitter account launched Friday — or “my FBI Houston,” in English — marks the first time ever that the bureau has opened a social media account aimed exclusively at individuals who speak Spanish.

“In order for the FBI to accomplish its mission, which is to protect the American people, we have to identify and implement effective ways to communicate with the diverse communities we serve,” said Mr. Turner. “That includes the rapidly growing Hispanic community, which in the Houston metropolitan area represents over 36 percent of the population.”

Indeed, neither the Houston field office nor the agency’s new Twitter account are intended entirely for Spanish speakers residing within city limits. FBI Houston has four satellite offices across the Lone Star State, and jurisdiction in 40 different counties. With respect to Harris County, however, where Houston serves as the county seat, a 2013 report suggested that the only other major metropolitan area in the country with a larger Hispanic population was the greater Los Angeles region.

FBI Houston launched its English-language account last August and began posting tweets in Spanish four months later, the bureau said. As of Saturday, however, only a single tweet has been sent so far by miFBIHouston: “!Buenos Dias! !Bienvenidos a la cuenta oficial Twitter de FBI Houston en español! !Conectandonos en su idioma!”

According to the bureau, FBI Houston uses Twitter to share wanted photos and arrest and indictment information, as well as safety tips, community outreach efforts and more.

Earlier this week, an official Spanish-language Twitter account operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services caused confusion after posting a poll that asked followers: “When was the Declaration of Independence Adopted?” Neither of the four available options included the correct answer: July 4, 1776.

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