Home > BLOG 4, Crisis Communication > Blog 4: Social Media and Disaster Communication

Blog 4: Social Media and Disaster Communication

Social media has become one of the greatest tools in today’s world.  Almost everyone has some type of social media network that they are a part of.  Thus, social media has become an essential part of disaster communication.  Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have been extremely useful both before, during, and after all types of disasters.  It is a way to get information out quickly and efficiently.  Since, Facebook and Twitter are user friendly, anyone can get the information that they need to know as well as post their own information they may find important before, during,or after a crisis.


According to an article written in The Telegraph, ”By sharing images, texting and tweeting, the public is already becoming part of a large response network, rather than remaining mere bystanders or casualties,” said the US team led by Dr Raina Merchant, an emergency medicine expert from the University of Pennsylvania.  Part of being a part of the response network, is that people have more control over what they know and information that they need to get out to others.

An example of the primary use of social media network, was in March 2011, right after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.  The primary source of communication was Facebook and Twitter. According to an article written by Jewel Samad in Time Magazine, “to send warnings, ask for help and relay bits of information from the scene as well as to announce that they were safe. According to Mashable, only an hour after the earthquake, more than 1,200 tweets per minute were being sent from Tokyo.” Hashtags like #prayforjapan, #earthquake and #tsunami trended almost instantly, and were being tweeted thousands of times per second by people all over the globe, according to Poynter. And not surprisingly, Twitter reported both a record number of tweets the day of the quake (177 million) and accounts added one day after (572,000, as opposed to the daily average of 460,000).

Twitter and Facebook were both able to be used as relief and fund raising tools as well.  Also, it was a tool of communication between friends and families, to let them know where they are and that they were safe.  They are also a steady stream of information of breaking news.  When something major happens, even across the globe, the whole world reads about it in their newsfeeds only minutes after it happens.  With this type of efficiency and response, it makes communication much easier in times of crisis.

FEMA also has a Twitter page that has many tips every day for different types of preparations people can be doing at any time.  They want to have people prepared and notified before, during, and after any disaster.  There are many other different Twitter and Facebook pages that people can follow in order to be updated with any information. Every major and even minor news station has social media sites so that people can get their news as quick as possible. In today’s day and age, it is amazing that we can know what is happening around the world in a matter of seconds.  This has proven to be beneficial in times of crises and for major disasters.

  1. November 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Good post. Lots of good information here. And good referencing of other sources. Nice job.

  1. November 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm

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