Microsoft is testing a new online service which aims to add automatic alerts to social networking.
The Vine service, which is still in beta, allows users to keep tabs on individuals within their network, as well as specific locations and events. The service also warns users when emergency alerts are issued and local news stories published.
Like other social networks, users can organise contacts by groups and customise the service for their location. Updates and messages can also be received via email or text message.
Microsoft hopes that the service will let users keep in touch with local news and social contacts, send and receive alerts in the event of an emergency, and co-ordinate community responses in the event of a disaster.
The network is the first step in a large-scale social networking project Microsoft calls "societal networking".
The company plans to begin testing a limited beta of the service next month.
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