Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

Summary: The Department of Homeland Security's new National Terrorism Advisory System will use Facebook and Twitter to distribute alerts in some cases.

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The Department of Homeland Security plans to use Facebook and Twitter to warn citizens about threats with its new National Terrorism Advisory System, set to launch on April 27, 2011. The social networks won't always be used, but they will play a role when the US government deems it necessary.

The messages will likely be similar to the emergency broadcast system warnings that go out over TV and radio. The US government might as well be take leverage Facebook and Twitter given that people are on them all day long.

The new program will have just two levels of warnings (elevated and imminent) and will replace the old five color-coded system (red – severe, orange – high, yellow – elevated, blue – guarded, and green – low), which was put in place following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The new terror warnings will each come with a stamped expiration date, according to a 19-page Homeland Security draft dated April 1, 2011, and cited by the Associated Press.

A step-by-step process will occur behind the scenes when the government believes terrorists might be threatening Americans. First, members of Congress will be notified, then counterterrorism officials in states and cities, then governors and mayors, and finally the public.

An elevated alert would warn of a credible threat against the US and would expire after 30 days. It would typically not specify timing or targets, but would instead reveal terrorist trends that intelligence officials believe should be shared in order to prevent an attack. An imminent alert would warn about a specific and impending terrorist threat or an ongoing attack against the US. That alert would expire after no more than seven days. Both types of warnings could be extended.

Homeland Security is still not sure how much information to release with the new warning system. Giving away too much information in the warnings will give the bad guys a heads-up, while not releasing enough information could mean citizens will be will not be able to react appropriately.

The color warnings that became one of the government's most visible anti-terrorism programs were criticized as too vague to be useful. The new advisory system is designed to be more specific, but it's still unclear how often notices will be issued. Some terror warnings may be withheld from the public if announcing a threat will risk exposing an intelligence operation or an ongoing investigation.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Government, Government US

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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17 comments
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  • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

    your snippet..."leverage Facebook and Twitter given that people are on them all day long"...worries me. Don't people in the US work anymore?
    Bradish@...
    • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

      @Bradish@... lol no kidding! i guess they think that everybody gets paid to youbook, facetube, and twat all day
      bc3tech
    • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

      @Bradish@... This goes back to a few things I have stated in recent articles about the laziness of this country. Work ethics are not the same as they were 30+ years ago. Grant it I surf ZDN and Engadget and CNN all day at work, but that isn't the same as FB (which I don't have) and Twitter. I also work in the IT Department so it isn't frowned upon that I am checking up on geek news.
      Bates_
    • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

      @Bradish@... Our unemployment rate is 8.8% what do you think :P
      snoop0x7b
    • smartphones

      @Bradish@... I have a friend whose smartphone regularly receives updates on her twitter feed, and so she'll check it periodically. If an alert were released, and she were to receive it... she'd be informed within an hour or 2 of the alert going out.

      I think it's not meant to say that this is an immediately received message, as much as it is meant to say that there are people on at all times, as opposed to saying that all people are on at all times.
      shryko
      • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

        @Bradish@... lol no kidding! i guess they think that everybody gets paid to youbook, facetube, and twat all day. <a href="http://www.musthighschool.com/must/diploma/">online diploma</a>
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    • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

      That alert would expire after no more than seven days. Both types of warnings could be extended. <a href="http://www.biztaxtalk.com/node/1621">Universal Degrees</a>
      alanhawk
    • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

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      alanhawk
    • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

      I also work in the IT Department so it isn't frowned upon that I am checking up on geek news. <a href="http://www.upvery.com/38650-woodfield-university-introduces-new-modes-of-education-verification-service.html">Woodfield University</a>
      alanhawk
      • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

        Keep doing the good work. <a href="http://www.nationhighschool.com/">High School Diploma</a>
        jordanhawk
  • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

    It looks like there's a serious attempt to lower the general IQ in the case of a national disaster - only Twitter and Facbook users will survive - expect the population to starve in 2 weeks ;-)

    In the rest of the world, we use text messaging, TV and Radio.
    tonymcs@...
    • Not explicitly exclusive...

      @tonymcs@... Where did the article say that ONLY twitter and facebook would be receiving this? Personally, I think it's reasonable for a government to be open to using ALL channels at its disposal, instead of just some. If you want to reach as many people as possible, put the message on as many media as possible. Adding 2 new ones, in amongst other changes, is a good move, as such.
      shryko
  • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

    Stop these Republican era Scare tactics.. The US government should be more interested in warning the American people about Bank Terrorist threats threats, which have more impact on our lives than any nasty foreigner terrorist ever will. Wake up and smell the coffee!
    Directphoto
  • Leave me the heck alone...

    I don't want to have anything to do with your "terror" alerts. You better put an alert up everytime you put an alert up because terror alerts are terror for the sheep.
    jessiethe3rd
  • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

    Another waste of taxpayer money.
    james347
  • Just adblock them out

    *fbcdn/*terror*$third-party,script,frame,image - something to that effect.

    That is if you want to stay on facebook. For users of other browsers, you will have to use stylesheets - .css. For mobile walled in garbage, you are screwed unless you find a app for that. Of course the developer will be in jail.
    osreinstall
  • RE: Homeland Security to issue terror alerts via Facebook, Twitter

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