New Terror Warning System on Twitter for Up-to-the-Minute Fear Mongering!

Linda Sharps

Get ready to say goodbye to Homeland Security's Single Rainbow of Doom (What Does It Meeeaaaan?), because the government has come up with a powerful new system to replace the five color-coded terror alerts originally unveiled to the public on March of 2002.

Starting April 27, instead of a scale of five escalating risk levels, terror alerts will come in exactly two flavors:

Elevated (everyday creeping sense of fear, constant vigilance/paranoia, free TSA-provided pelvic exams, etc.)


Imminent (put on your brown pants, buddy, because shit's about to get real)

How will you know whether or not you should be running around screaming? By checking your favorite social media site for updates, of course.

According to a draft Homeland Security Department plan, the two warning levels will be communicated to the public (using Facebook and Twitter "when appropriate")—but only after federal, state, and local government leaders have been notified, and only under certain circumstances for limited periods of time.

Some terror warnings could be withheld from the public entirely, if issuing a threat level could jeopardize an investigation.

The general sequence of relaying information is now supposed to happen like this: first, members of Congress are notified. Next, counterterrorism officials in states and cities, then governors and mayors.

Lastly, the great unwashed public is to be informed, probably by a trending Twitter hashtag like #IMMINENTBONER. Or maybe a relationship status change on the Homeland Security page ("It's complicated").

Well, I guess I'm glad they're finally revamping the rainbow system, because how effective is a constantly-escalated threat advisory? Since its creation in 2002, it has never once been lowered to Low or Guarded.

Still, this whole thing sounds like a work in progress, despite the fact that it's supposed to roll out in just a couple weeks. According to Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa, "The plan is not yet final, as we will continue to meet and exercise with our partners to finalize a plan that meets everyone's needs."

Hopefully they'll send out a tweet when they've got the whole thing figured out.

What do you think of the new threat system? Does it sound like an improvement on the color-coded scale?

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