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Twitter unveils emergency alert system

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Twitter has announced a new feature, called Twitter Alerts, what will allow governments and other information sources to push alerts right to a user's phone with a notification.

Twitter, which made the announcement on its blog, says the goal is to help users get "important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies, natural disasters or moments when other communications services aren’t accessible."

Users will not receive the alerts unless they sign up for an account's Twitter Alerts. Then, when an account marks a Tweet as an alert, it will send a notification directly to the user's phone.

If the user has Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Android, they will also receive a push notification.

Twitter says the alerts will appear differently on the user's timeline from regular Tweets. They will have a small orange bell symbol next to them.

On the web, a user can see if an organization is part of the program when they visit its profile.

A number of organizations in the U.S., Japan and Korea are signed up to send alerts.

Among them:

  • American Red Cross
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Land Management: National Interagency Fire Center
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency: En Español
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • National Park Service: Fire and Aviation
  • Ready.gov: Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Travel.gov: US Department of State
  • US Department of Homeland Security
  • US Geological Survey
  • US Department of the Interior

Several state governments are also signed up. Twitter says it will expand the service to include more public institutions and NGOs around the world.

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