updated 02:31 pm EDT, Wed September 25, 2013
Program geared for public agencies
Twitter has introduced a new alert system for emergency notifications or other important information related to ongoing events. During a crisis or emergency, accounts registered with the Twitter Alerts system can post tweets that will stand out with a unique appearance and higher priority than social posts.
The company will only enable certain agencies to participate in the program, helping to prevent the platform from being used for promotional spam. Participants will be required to increase the security of their account to provide an additional layer of protection against abuse.
Priority access will be given to law enforcement, emergency management agencies, other government agencies and select NGOs. The list of participants already includes the American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the US Geological Survey, among others.
Twitter suggests the system is geared for imminent crises such as severe weather events, biological incidents, chemical emergencies, nuclear accidents or terrorist attacks. The alerts can be used as general warnings, informative bulletins or to give specific evacuation instructions.
To enable Twitter Alerts, users must go to the Alerts setup page for each organization and enable the service. Posts can be viewed in typical feeds, with push support for smartphones, or via text messages.