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    This federal agency’s Twitter account got weird and stayed weird


    The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission wants to remind you to stay safe this summer, and the agency took to social media Friday to do just that — albeit in an unusual manner.

    In a move aimed at embracing Friday as #SocialMediaDay, the official twitter account of the US CPSC brought back some of its more, er, interesting consumer product tweets.

    For example, accidentally traveling through time is no excuse to go sans-helmet on your ATV.


    Liked 65 times and retweeted 40 times, the above post certainly garnered more engagement than the usual CPSC tweet, no doubt thanks to its non sequitur introduction which seemed to leave more questions than answers.

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    Who is Ted? How did he harness the 1.21 jigawatts of electricity a flux capacitor needs to operate? Can his ATV even make it up to the required 88 m.p.h. needed for time displacement? And how will he escape what appears to be a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex?

    The CPSC doesn’t seem to care. They are just happy that Ted is wearing his helmet. “Good job, Ted” the caption reads.

    But wait, there’s more!

    At some point before or after (or during - time travel, amirite?) his trip to the Cretaceous Period, Ted found himself on the Oregon Trail.


    The CPSC Twitter account seemed to show Ted a little sympathy on this one, reminding him not to drink the water while venturing west. It also used his appearance on the trail to highlight that ATVs should only ever be occupied by a single rider. Sorry beleaguered pioneers, Ted has no room for you onboard.

    Both of the tweets, along with others, were marked with a #SocialMediaDay hashtag, a movement started by the website Mashable in 2010 “as a way to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication.” Good job, Mashable.

    Some of the agency’s other posts today were just as surreal, linking joy to working smoke and CO detectors while presenting viewers with a serene landscape framed by a rainbow.

    And what’s that hiding in the hair of our nation’s first president. Duh. It’s a message that working smoke alarms belong on every floor and every bedroom of your dwelling.

    Don’t worry, CPSC, I’ve got smoke detectors. Of course they were beeping so I removed the batteries.


    OK, fair enough. Good call, CPSC.

    The agency also told the public today they should imagine “a 3ft force field around your baby. That’s how far away cords should be at all times.”

    Fair point, CPSC. But how would one generate a force field? You’d need some sort of shield generator...

    Oh, thanks CPSC. Was that a reference to the Battle of Endor? Jub! Jub!

    In a post that would make the Monty Python’s self defense teacher proud, the agency advised the American public that “the second you don’t respect” the avocado, you can injure yourself pretty badly.

    And a more serious post that has particular resonance for the student population of Boston, the agency reminded renters that an incredibly high number of fires fatal to college students take place in off-campus housing. “Yeah, Mom! The apartment is great!” the post says over a picture of a shoddy studio. “The apartment was not great,” the completed caption reads as the agency reminds the public to “See it before you sign it.”

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission is “charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction,” according to its website.

    CPSC social media specialist Joseph Galbo told the Globe Friday that as a relatively small federal agency, he and his colleagues are always looking for ways to stand out.

    “If we want to reach folks we do have to take a unique approach,” Galbo said.

    Galbo, 30, said today’s campaign was meant to highlight some of the outreach work the agency has done in recent months.

    “We get excited that we can communicate with the public across social media in a really modern and fun way,” he said.

    Galbo described the reaction from social media users as “overwhelmingly positive.”

    The CPSC is perhaps best known online for its dramatic July Fourth holiday demonstrations of the dangers of fireworks.

    Galbo said this year was the first time the agency has been able to stream the fireworks demonstration live on Facebook.

    Christina Prignano of the Globe staff contributed. Rob DeCola can be reached at