Twitter announced today that it would begin allowing users to use its service to receive emergency messages from credible information sources. The new service, which is called Twitter Alerts, highlights the importance of Twitter as a communication medium in the current era. The new service will help users of the social network to avoid the pitfalls faced by those getting their information from the Internet.

twitter

The Twitter program will allow messages from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, the Department of Homeland Security and a large amount of police and fire services at a local level. It has the potential to save lives, and is a solid good will gesture from the microblogging site.

Twitter emergency alert system

The service from Twitter is optional, and users who are interested in the service will have to opt in. If the service is on iPhone or Android it will be delivered as a push notification, meaning that the maximum number of users will receive the message. The alerts will appear on a user’s Twitter feed, and will be marked with an orange bell indicating the emergency nature of the message.

“We know from our users how important it is to be able to receive reliable information during these times,” said a blog the company published on the new service. “With that in mind, last year we announced Lifeline (a feature that helps Japanese users find emergency accounts during crises), and since then, we’ve been working on a related feature for people around the world.”

Twitter IPO

The arrival of an emergency messaging system on Twitter is unlikely to be a motivating factor for many of the investors looking to get involved with the company, but it certainly can’t hurt. The addition of an emergency alert system, apart from its obvious humanitarian benefit, has the potential to get more users onto the service.

The company seems set on an IPO in the coming months, and the addition of new features is a sign that points to the innovation at the heart of the social network. The company’s offering will be the most hyped since Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) went public in May 2012, but the Menlo Park company didn’t offer emergency notifications.

Tags: