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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Homeland Security Department relaunched its Web site Wednesday and became the first Cabinet-level agency to follow the tech-savvy White House directives on social media.

President Barack Obama’s aides have been urging agencies to add interactive components to their Web sites, such as videos and blogs. But it’s been a slow start for a team that harnessed the Internet during the presidential campaign to organize supporters and deliver the White House.

The White House touted the Homeland Security Department’s online presence as a model for other agencies. The department redesigned its own Web site to offer more opportunities for citizens to interact and launched a YouTube channel to post online videos.

And during disasters, the department plans to use its Twitter account to communicate with the public.

“Social media plays an increasingly large role in our engagement with the public, especially in the event of an incident or disaster,” Secretary Janet Napolitano said. “These new tools will facilitate an open dialogue about the department’s security efforts across the nation and around the world.”

The department earlier this month started a blog to promote news articles and schedules to the public; officials said the blog draws about 50 new subscribers a day and almost 2,000 people receive e-mail updates.

Several departments already have Twitter accounts but have hardly used it as much as the White House. Last week, the White House announced Obama’s news conference through a tweet.

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On the Net:

Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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