Concerns raised over Twitter’s role in emergency information in the Netherlands

Lawmaker Nico Drost’s office underscored concerns about accessibility, accountability, and reliability, highlighting the government’s dependence on a private company for disseminating critical information.

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Dutch politicians and a digital rights group expressed concerns about relying on Twitter for emergency information after citizens were directed to the platform during a severe storm. Lawmaker Nico Drost’s office highlighted issues of accessibility, accountability, and reliability, emphasising the government’s dependence on a private company for sharing crucial information. 

The storm, the most intense on record in the Netherlands during summer, caused fatalities and extensive damage in the province of North Holland. The national emergency alert service advised people to stay indoors and follow the regional fire department’s Twitter account for updates, a decision criticised by politicians and digital rights group Bits of Freedom. 

They argued that using Twitter was inappropriate as the government has dedicated crisis communication websites. They also raised concerns about disinformation and Twitter’s limited accessibility, especially for those without accounts. 

Furthermore, Twitter’s recent tweet view limitations and the lack of verification for the regional fire department’s account were mentioned as additional drawbacks. Attempts to contact Twitter for comment were unsuccessful, with an automatic poop emoji reply received from its press email address.