Social Media- the villain of crisis

It has become very apparent in recent months that social media plays a key role during crisis situations. When the year first began, I never thought that this country would experience anything like the Oklahoma tornadoes or the Boston bombings.

It has been during both of these crisis events that I realized how important social media was. This includes the leaders in these affected cities being able to provide minute by minute updates as a result of social media. These updates are not only important for local residents, but they are also important for their family members as well. In the aftermath of the tornadoes that nearly destroyed Moore, Oklahoma, thousands of people across the country were waiting to find out if their family members or friends were okay. In a situation like this, cell phones typically do not work because the network towers have been destroyed. So this means that those living in a disaster area cannot make any phone calls. However, local media stations often have back up power systems which allows them to have access to the internet. Many used the internet on the day of the tornadoes to update their social media pages about what was going on, which included the amount of devastation and the number of survivors.

Pinterest is one of the social media sites used often during crisis situations. Over the past week users have been posting photos of destruction scenes from Oklahoma. If not for sites like these, I would not have seen up close photos and I also would have not have been updated so quickly about what was really going on.

Many disaster organizations like the Red Cross also frequently use social media during a crisis situation. Red Cross team members will use sites like Facebook and Twitter to post updates about rescue efforts and also to send out a call out for volunteers. These sites are also used frequently as a platform for soliciting donations.

During the Boston bombings, social media was a main source for getting updates for many people. This included updates about the people injured, and also the progress being made on finding the attackers. I know if one of my family members was in the marathon I would be checking these sites every five minutes.

The thing I like most about social media is that it helps people who live faraway get instant information about their family. Nothing calms the nerves of a mother or father more than getting an updated post from their son or daughter letting them that they are okay.

Going forward, I expect to see social media playing an even bigger role during crisis situations and weather disaster related events. This might result in Facebook and Twitter implementing new features like video on demand or podcasting.

No comments: