Apr 21, 2023 - News

Twitter changes curbs automated Central Ohio weather alerts

Illustration of a cracked cellphone with the twitter logo in the center

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you get your emergency weather alerts from Twitter, it's time to find another way.

Driving the news: One of the many changes owner Elon Musk is making to the social media platform is ending free access to a tool that posts automated content.

  • Some accounts are silly ā€” tweeting out MLB home run distances and every "Shrek 2" movie frame in order ā€” but the National Weather Service uses the tool to post real-time weather updates.
  • Twitter will limit the number of automated tweets to 50 per 24-hour period. Businesses and "scaled commercial projects" that wish to automate more tweets than that will be charged a minimum of $42,000 per month.

Why it matters: The NWS Wilmington forecasting office, which covers our area, has provided its tens of thousands of Twitter followers with automated alerts since 2014.

A tweet from the NWS Wilmington OH account reading, "[8:30 AM] Twitter is now limiting automated tweets and as a result this account can no longer auto post warnings as we have done so in the past. We will continue to provide general updates, but always ensure that you have multiple means for receiving weather information & alerts."
Via Twitter.

The latest: The account no longer plans to do so. Twitter informed NWS there would be no exemption to the programming change for public alerts, NWS spokesperson Susan Buchanan told Axios' Andrew Freedman.

Threat level: NWS can manually issue tweets, Buchanan says, but this is not ideal during severe weather outbreaks, when dozens of warnings and advisories may be issued.

  • "Without this automated process, it would take minutes for forecasters to manually prepare warning information into a tweet. For every warning issued, seconds could make the difference between life and death."

Be smart: Get weather and other emergency alerts via text through the Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security office.

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