How Homeland Security Just Gave You An Excuse To Constantly Check Your Facebook and Twitter Feeds

Looking for an explanation or justification for the hours and hours you spend on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter? The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just gave you a good one.

Looking for an explanation or justification for the hours and hours you spend on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter?  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just gave you a good one.

You’re being safe.

DHS is taking its security warning system virtual, announcing it will now tap into the viral power of social networks to more quickly spread news about new terror alerts.

What that means for you, social media addicts, is that in the event of a terror attack, you’ll be the first to know.

The 19-page DHS draft plan, first obtained by the Associated Press, is intended to replace the current color-coded terrorism warning system that was enacted after the September 11th terror attacks in 2001.

When warnings are issued to the public, alerts will also be published on social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter “when appropriate,” after notifying local, state and federal officials.

Twitter has a reported 175 million registered users, while Facebook alone has more than 500 million users worldwide who spend an average of 320 minutes on the site each month, according to analytics site comScore.

Leaving behind the much-maligned colors such as red (severe), orange (high) and yellow (elevated), the new plan also calls for using just two threat levels:  elevated and imminent, and issuing alerts with an expiration date.

No firm date has been set for the plan to be implemented, but it could reportedly go into effect as early as April 27.

Also still to be determined is exactly how alerts will be issued on the social networking sites.  No details were given in the AP report.

The DHS currently uses social media to reach the public through its general Facebook page and a Twitter account (@NTASAlerts).

You can also sign up for terrorism alerts through e-mail on the DHS website.

Gone are the days when families gathered around radios to hear breaking news.

In 2009, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) became one of the first federal agencies to tap into social media when it created a Twitter account (@t911HELP) for people in distress to send ‘@ replies’ and direct messages to FEMA.