Homeland Security to Issue Social Network Warnings

Dennis Faas's picture

Prepare to get your terrorism reports dished out via social networking sites very soon.

The United States government says it's considering using Twitter and Facebook to announce changes in the terror-alert system, replacing the old color-coded ratings ranging from "Low" to "Guarded" all the way up to "High" and "Severe".

Warning System Could Start This Month

The report doesn't come to us from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but instead the Associated Press, which says it recently learned DHS is considering April 27 as a start date for the new program.

The Facebook and Twitter updates would actually replace the existing color-coded system, which experts say has largely faded in popularity since it was first introduced shortly after September 11, 2001.

Electronic Threat Levels Kept Simple

The new system will feature just two levels: elevated and imminent. They'll also feature an expiration date, meaning that if nothing happens before a given time, the alert will be removed.

"According to the draft plan, before an official alert is issued, there is a multi-step process that must be followed, starting with intelligence sharing among multiple federal, state and local agencies, including the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the White House," the Associated Press reported.

"If the threat is considered serious enough, a Homeland Security official will call for a meeting of a special counterterrorism advisory board." (Source: pcmag.com)

Once such a board is formed, it would meet within 30 minutes and decide a course of action, including raising an alert to be issued within a two-hour window.

Implementation Process Remains Unclear

There's still much to work out in how any of this will apply to Twitter and Facebook.

Rumors suggest all U.S. users of these sites would be alerted to a security issue, but only after federal and state authorities had been notified. (Source: computerworld.com)

Some experts say this new measure marks an important shift in social networking's role in society. "Within five years, social networking will be what email is today," said Yankee Group Research analyst, Zeus Kerravala. "I see the phone, email, faxes, etc. as older generation tools."

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