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US to use Social Media for issuing Terror Threat Notifications

Facebook and Twitter

With effect from April 27 2011, the US government plans to go ahead with a new system to replace the five color-coded terror alerts having two levels of warnings — elevated and imminent — that will be relayed to the public only under certain circumstances for limited periods of time using Facebook and Twitter.

The current system with 5 stages alarming system have largely faded into the background since they were instituted following the attacks of Sept’11, 2001. This kind of a system was also responsible many a times in spreading unnecessary fear among the public, which sometimes became an obstruction for intelligence or law enforcement services, to take any action in such scenarios.

The Obama administration is replacing the five-color terror-alert reports, citing a draft proposal from the Homeland Security Department that describes the sequence of notifying members of Congress, then counter-terrorism officials in states and cities and then governors and mayors and, ultimately, the public.

Reports Yahoo News:

A 19-page document, marked “for official use only” and dated April 1, describes the step-by-step process that would occur behind the scenes when the government believes terrorists might be threatening Americans. It describes the sequence of notifying members of Congress, then counterterrorism officials in states and cities, then governors and mayors and, ultimately, the public.

It even specifies details about how many minutes U.S. officials can wait before organizing urgent conference calls to discuss pending threats. It places the Homeland Security secretary, currently Janet Napolitano, in charge of the National Terrorism Advisory System.

The new terror alerts would also be published online using Facebook and Twitter “when appropriate,” the plan said, but only after federal, state and local leaders have been notified.

According to the draft plan, an “elevated” alert would warn of a credible threat against the U.S. It would not likely specify timing or targets, but it could reveal terrorist trends that intelligence officials believe should be shared in order to prevent an attack. That alert would expire after no more than 30 days but could be extended.

An “imminent” alert would warn about a credible, specific and impending terrorist threat against the U.S. That alert would expire after no more than seven days but could be extended.

So, make sure you watch your Facebook and Twitter accounts even more closely, from now on!

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