US government to show terrorist alerts on Facebook, Twitter

8 Apr 2011

The US government’s new terror alerts, which will replace its previous colour-coded warnings, may be displayed on Facebook and Twitter “when appropriate.”

A government draft obtained by The Associated Press revealed details of the new Homeland Security Advisory System which will be used by the US government to warn their citizens of a terrorist threat.

The revamp of the alerts system aims to make it easier to understand and will replace the much-criticised colour-coded warnings that came before.

The alerts could be posted on Facebook and Twitter only when appropriate and after federal, state and local leaders have been informed. There was no information on exactly how often the public will receive warnings.

Some terror warnings will not be revealed to the public if it could expose an intelligence operation and each warning will have an expiry date.

Two warning levels

The new system will only have two warning levels – elevated and imminent. “Elevated” warns of a “credible threat” against the US, without specifying targets or timing. It could reveal particular terrorist trends to the public, aiming to help prevent an attack. This would expire after 30 days but could be extended.

An “imminent” alert would warn of a “credible, specific and impending terrorist threat or an on-going attack” against the US. This would expire after seven days, though could also be extended.

The draft document on the new alert system has not been finalised yet but could come into place on 27 April.