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Twitter has already proven to be a lifeline for people caught in the middle of a disaster. Limiting alerts to public organizations may help curb the spread of misinformation, but the alerts will still only reach Twitter users who sign up for the service -- a relatively small number of citizens.

The State Department is working with Twitter to get travel warnings and news to citizens faster than ever. Travelers can now sign up via Twitter Alerts to receive texts and push notifications as soon as they are announced.

Notifications are sent directly to subscribers’ mobile phones as soon as the agency highlights a tweet as an alert. Users will also receive a push notification and the tweet will be highlighted with a small orange bell on their home timelines.

As a State Department official on background explains, “We foresee in the future using this service to highlight new worldwide travel alerts, for ongoing crisis situations, and also to inform U.S. citizens…in destinations where a large group of U.S. citizens may gather.”

This means the State Department might use the service to blast breaking alerts to Americans at global events like the upcoming World Cup or Olympics.

Twitter announced the new feature this Wednesday, September 25, on its blog. Only public agencies and emergency organizations in the U.S., Korea, and Japan can send alerts at this time.

The U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, and ten other national organizations have also set up Twitter Alerts. Hospitals, fire departments, and emergency management agencies on the state level have also signed up.

To subscribed to the State Department’s alerts, visit

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Tags: state department, travel warning, twitter, usa

Photo credit: A screen grab of the State Department's travel-focused Twitter account. PlaceIt by Breezi

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