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Twitter Alerts launches in UK and Ireland, pushes ‘critical’ tweets to users

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Twitter on Monday announced its Alerts service has come to the UK and Ireland, enabling users of the microblogging site the opportunity to receive “critical information” from emergency services, government organizations, and charities, relating to matters such as public safety, accessibility, and bad weather.

The expansion of the service comes two months after it launched in the US, Japan, and South Korea.

According to Twitter’s Steve Summers, 57 groups have so far signed up to be part of the site’s Alerts service, including the UK’s 47 police forces, the London Fire Brigade, the Mayor of London’s office, the Foreign Office, and Ireland’s Gardaí police force. The full list can be viewed here.

Crisis, disaster and emergency communications

“From today, these organizations will now be able to highlight critical information to their Twitter followers by marking Tweets as alerts, which highlight a Tweet with an orange bell for added visibility,” Summers said in a blog post announcing the news. “While participating organizations choose what information merits a Twitter Alerts designation, this feature is intended for crisis, disaster and emergency communications.

Commenting on the rollout of the service in the UK and Ireland, the Met Police’s David Martin said, “Getting fast and accurate information to the public in a major incident or terrorist attack really could make a life-saving difference.

“Using social networking sites, including Twitter, gives us additional ways to talk directly to the public. Twitter Alerts means that our messages will stand out when it most matters.”

If you’re interested in signing up for Alerts, simply visit the account page of the service you want to join – for example, London’s Met Police page is here – login to your account, then click on the button marked ‘Activate alerts’.

To have the alert pushed to your phone as an SMS message, enter your handset details on the next page that comes up. Be aware that by activating Twitter text messaging, others will be able to find you on Twitter via your mobile number, though this can be changed in your account settings.

Besides landing as SMS messages, notifications will also be pushed to users of iOS and Android devices, and will show up in your timeline with an orange bell beside the message.

Below is an example of an Alert – complete with the orange bell – issued last month by the Senate Sergeant at Arms, the unit responsible for security and safety at the US Senate. It relates to a shooting incident on Capitol Hill, and tells those in the vicinity to take shelter.

Similar to Alerts, Twitter launched Lifeline in 2012 for users in Japan, to help them find important information during emergency situations.

All the organizations that have chosen to sign up to the Alerts service already have Twitter accounts, with Alerts providing a way for them to highlight critical tweets and get them to users of the microblogging site in super-fast time.

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