Microsoft preps Vine network

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Microsoft preps Vine network

Microsoft is testing a new online service which aims to add automatic alerts to social networking.

Named 'Vine,' the beta service allows people to keep tabs on both individuals within the user's 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 organize their contacts by groups and customize the service for their location. Updates and messages can also be received via email or text message.

The service also allows users to plug into Facebook's Stream feed to receive news and status updates from the social network. Facebook recently released Stream to developers as an API.

The company hopes that the service will not only allow users to keep in touch with local news and social contacts, but also serve a vital function in the case of an emergency with connections to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Eventually, Microsoft sees the Vine service allowing users to send and receive alerts in the event of an emergency and coordinate community response 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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