Facebook is expanding a tool that allows local governments and first responders to communicate time-sensitive and need-to-know information to people on the social media network. The tech giant plans to make the local alert tool available to all eligible Facebook pages in the United States by the end of the year.
More than 350 local governments have used local alerts as part of a pilot program Facebook launched in November to communicate everyday emergencies — and some crises — including flash flood warnings, mandatory evacuations, missing people reports, water main breaks, active shooters, road closures, winter storms, extreme temperature warnings, and bomb threats.
According to a press release:
When authorities mark posts as local alerts, we greatly amplify their reach so that people living in an affected community are much more likely to see them. We send notifications to people living in the affected area, and we also show that information on Today In, a new place on Facebook for local news, community information, and conversations between neighbors. You’ll also see the local alert indicator next to that post in News Feed.
Since we started testing local alerts, we’ve invested in making these alerts smarter, allowing partners to specify whether they’re sending a missing person alert, a public safety alert or a weather alert, for example. And we’ve made them more targeted, by giving our partners the ability to select the affected counties, cities, towns or neighborhoods that should receive notifications. This helps us ensure that local authorities reach only the people they need to reach during these urgent situations.
How to Get Local Alerts
If you manage a Facebook Page associated with a county or municipal government, local emergency management agency, fire department, or local law enforcement and you’d like access to local alerts, you can apply here. Facebook will notify applicants once the tool is available in their respective regions.