Government To Issue Terror Alerts On Facebook

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will begin issuing terror alerts via Facebook and Twitter.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will begin issuing terror alerts via Facebook and Twitter starting the end of this month.

Color-coded alerts will be a thing of the past, and instead of five different warning levels, only two will remain — elevated and imminent — and the public will only hear about them some of the time.

These changes would all go into effect by April 27, according to the Associated Press.

AP learned of these changes from a 19-page document from the Department of Homeland Security, detailing the new strategy for terror alerts. The news service said:

Some terror warnings could be withheld from the public if announcing a threat would risk exposing an intelligence operation or an ongoing investigation, according to the government’s confidential plan. Like a gallon of milk, the new terror warnings will each come with a stamped expiration date.

The Facebook version of these alerts might even have self-selective distribution: people who like the Department of Homeland Security’s page on the social network would receive the terror information within the news feed.

I wonder whether limiting distribution in this way might result in a lot of people simply not getting the terror alerts at all. Some have theorized that the average Facebook user only sees about one in ten of the things that go through the news feed, although that highly informal statistic really needs proof.

The roughly 155 million U.S. users of Facebook (and Twitter users are only a fraction of this) amount to only half of the nation’s population, so hopefully the Department of Homeland Security would supplement the social media distribution of terror alerts with a website and a team of publicists.

Readers, what do you think about this changed strategy, and how might you react to terror warnings delivered via social media?