Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced in late January that the DHS was scrapping the ambiguous, often mocked terror alert system currently in use and replacing it with an alert that has two threat levels: elevated and imminent. This could be less ambiguous than the color-coded warnings that were often the brunt of late-night talk shows' jokes. Reminder: red (severe), orange (high), yellow (elevated), blue (guarded) and green (low).
According to the DHS site, the alerts "will provide a concise summary of the potential threat, information about actions being taken to ensure public safety, and recommended steps that individuals and communities, businesses and governments can take."
"Today I announce the end of the old system of color-coded alerts," Napolitano said in January. "In its place, we will implement a new system that's built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact you — the public — we will tell you."
According to a 19-page DHS draft plan recently obtained by the Associated Press, the overhauled DHS plan calls for alerts to be published through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter "when appropriate, but only after federal, state and local government leaders have already be notified."
The AP does not specify how alerts would be issued through social media outlets. However, in January the DHS indicated that its general Facebook page and a Twitter account would serve as the DHS's foremost means for issuing public alerts through social media.
Elevated alerts would warn of credible threats again the U.S. and would expire no more than 30 days but would be subject to extensions. Imminent alerts would warn of credible, specific and impending terrorist threats or ongoing attacks. They would expire after no more than seven days, however they are also subject to extensions.