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Twitter Alerts: New Tool for Crisis Communication

When disaster strikes, support agencies and emergency responders are quick to move into action. Whether it's setting up local resources, being the first on-scene to restore operations or delivering critical information, communication is key every step of the way.

Social media is now, more than ever, proving be a critical component of crisis communication. Twitter Alerts, is one such example of how social media is " bringing us one step closer to helping users get important and accurate information during emergencies, natural disasters or when other communications services aren't accessible."

What are Twitter Alerts?
Twitter describes the new offering as follows:

"Twitter Alerts is a new way to get accurate and important information when you need it most. If you sign up to receive an account's Twitter Alerts, you will receive a notification directly to your phone whenever that account marks a Tweet as an alert. Notifications are delivered via SMS, and if you use Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Android, you'll also receive a push notification. (To receive Twitter Alerts as push notifications, you must be using Twitter for iPhone version 5.10 or higher, and Twitter for Android 4.1.6 or higher.) Alerts also appear differently on your home timeline from regular Tweets; they will be indicated with an orange bell."

Who participates in Twitter Alerts?
Twitter has set-up the feature to give priority access to key government, law enforcement, and public safety agencies, but does offer an enrollment option to all who are considered: "local, national and international institutions that provide critical information to the general public." Click here to learn more about enrollment and for a list of organizations already participating. 

Why is Twitter Alerts Important for Crisis Communication?
In an emergency, pertinent safety information, weather updates, and resources can now be "pushed" to users' fingertips by trusted sources. "Critical Tweets" will also now rise to the top in feeds enhancing visibility and giving users the important information they need to stay in-the-know and better prepared.

How do I sign up for Twitter Alerts?
Signing up is very easy. If you know a specific organization is already participating in Twitter Alerts, just visit their specific alert page (e.g. twitter.com/FEMA/alerts) to sign-up. If you are unsure, the easiest way to tell if a company has alerts enabled is to check their profile page to see if there is an alerts banner (with orange bell) located in the left sidebar. If there is a banner, just click to subscribe. 



 

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