Color-coded terror alerts for US citizens could very soon become a thing of the past. Starting from April 27, the Department of Homeland Security is likely to differentiate the risk as “elevated” or “imminent” and to start issuing public alerts via Facebook or Twitter.
According to AP, these changes have been delineated in an internal DHS document that also defines the step-by-step process that should be followed when notifying all concerned individuals and groups.
The first to be notified of a possible threat will be the members of Congress, followed by counterterrorism officials in states and cities. Next in line are governors and mayors and – at the very end – the public.
Although, there may be instances when the public will not warned at all, and that depends on whether the government believes that a too specific warning might interfere with the investigation or an intelligence operation.
The alerts will come with an expiration date. An “elevated” alert would expire after 30 days and the “imminent” one after seven – even though both alerts can be extended after that period has passed.
All Facebook’s Jackie Cohen expressed her doubt whether warnings solely via Facebook and Twitter would be enough.
“The roughly 155 million U.S. users of Facebook (and Twitter users are only a fraction of this) amount to only half of the nation’s population, so hopefully the Department of Homeland Security would supplement the social media distribution of terror alerts with a website and a team of publicists,” she pointed out. “I wonder whether limiting distribution in this way might result in a lot of people simply not getting the terror alerts at all. Some have theorized that the average Facebook user only sees about one in ten of the things that go through the news feed, although that highly informal statistic really needs proof.”