Twitter Alerts: A Reliable Source In Times of Uncertainty

Last week, Twitter announced a new emergency alert system.

Twitter Alerts is a system which allows users to receive notifications from specific and credible organizations in the event of a natural disaster or public emergency. This new system continues to show the power and influence social media has during times of need; providing a community of support, as well an outlet for information. As we all know, Twitter allows for real time and unfiltered updates. This has proven to be both positive and negative during disaster and emergency situations. Twitter Alerts will establish a credible way to inform the public, ensuring tweets are reliable. Gaby Pena, Twitter Product Manager, stated that Twitter Alerts are,

“A new feature that brings us one step closer to helping users get important and accurate information from credible organizations during emergencies…when other communication services aren’t accessible.”[1]

The Twitter Alerts program will allow approved organizations to send out tweets in the case of an emergency or disaster. Some of the organizations that have signed up include; the American Red Cross, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the New York City Fire Department.[2] To see a full list check out the following link:

https://about.twitter.com/alerts/participating-organizations.

Users are able to log into their existing Twitter account and select the organizations they wish to receive notifications from. If you are willing to disclose your cell phone number, users can also receive an SMS update.

Twitter Alerts are also available in Canada. The City of Edmonton has already jumped on board, ensuring the city stays informed in the event of an emergency or disaster.

We continue to see the impact Twitter has during times of crisis and it is time users were offered a credible source to receive such information. In order to prevent misinformation, which was the case during Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings, this new alert system is essential. The potential Twitter Alerts offers for aid and support during emergencies is endless. This is another example of how cemented social media is in our lives. The need for instant, credible and accessible communication is something that people crave. When contact is limited, it is comforting to know we have an outlet available to keep us updated, to help locate loved ones and to provide support.

I am pleased to see the steps Twitter is taking to become more responsible and accountable for the information being tweeted, especially during a crisis. We all want the ability to speak our thoughts and opinions, but in times like natural disasters and emergencies, most of us want reliable facts we can trust.


[1] “Twitter Launches Alert System for Emergencies, Disasters.” CTV News. Online. Sept 26, 2013.

[2] Joanna Stern. “Twitter Launches Alerts to Keep You Updated During Emergencies.” ABC News. Online. Sept 25, 2013.

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