Home > BLOG 4, Crisis Communication > Blog 4: The Use of Facebook and Twitter During a Crisis

Blog 4: The Use of Facebook and Twitter During a Crisis

As we enter into the second decade of the new millennium there has been a shift from where we as a society get our news. No longer are people depending on broadcast news or newspapers; they are now in the age where expediency is key. We want our news, and we want it now. This is where Twitter and Facebook come in. Never before were we able to get status updates of what is to come in 140 characters or less right when the action happened. This is crucial for disaster updates, now crisis communicators along with the mass media can give stakeholders up-to-the-minute information that they need in order to stay safe and informed. According to Wired , a technology magazine, there are about 19 million people on Twitter alone. This means that crisis communicators are able to reach large audiences if they need to get their message out to a vast crowd.

A great example of Twitter and Facebook being a valuable asset during a crisis was during the Japan Earthquake earlier this year. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, explains that during the crisis the social networking sites are not only valuable for communicating about disasters from the mass media, but it also allows family members and friends to keep in touch with one another. This is essential because if there are hundreds of thousands of people trying to dial out lines can be jammed, taking forever just to say you are okay. Now with the prevalence of smart phones people can now use things like apps for Twitter or Facebook to post their whereabouts and status. One girl during the earthquake in Japan was facebook chatting her cousin as it was occuring. Telegraph states,

She was Facebook chatting from under her desk at Yokohama International School, while the quake was going on. It was absolutely amazing. She couldn’t contact her parents a few miles away – the phones were down and the trains had stopped running – but we knew she was OK on the other side of the world. Facebook and Twitter are automatically the first place you now go to to find out what is going on.

Another important feature of Twitter and Facebook is its ability to post news. During the Japan earthquake there was a plethera of tweets and videos showing the earthquake well before the news media was able to broadcast or write about it. The reason being that it takes more time to go find the news write it up and give it to the public, this is especially true with broadcasting. Broadcast news require getting the camera crew out to the scene, writing the story and sometimes editing it before it can go out to the public. With Twitter and Facebook people can know what is going on at a drop of a hat. During the Japan Earthquake this was especially true, Telegraph states,

Within an hour, more than 1,200 tweets a minute were coming from Tokyo. By the end of Friday, American time, a total of 246,075 Twitter posts using the term “earthquake” had been posted

Not only is it families and the mass media that is using these social media sites, but also government agencies as well like FEMA. FEMA’s work through social networking can communicate to the media, stakeholders and public in an efficient way. Not only can Facebook and Twitter do this but as FEMA stated social media also gives a face to the organization.

There are many benefits to social media during a crisis. Whether its informing the public & stakeholders, allowing family members and love ones stay in contact with one another, or putting a face to a crisis organization prior to a disaster, all of these benefits makes it seem that social networking during a disaster is here to stay. As more people in the technology generation are starting to grow up social networks like Facebook and Twitter will only become more influential during a crisis.

  1. November 2, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Good post. Good discussion of multiple uses of social media during disasters (getting news, connecting individuals, users posting news).

  2. Catherine Hudson
    January 21, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Why are these two networks so Important? I hate them especially when I am watching the news, and they tell the people to go to these networks for more news.

  3. Catherine Hudson
    January 21, 2012 at 12:09 am

    We can do that cell if away from or at work

  4. April 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Reblogged this on allisonolexa23.

  1. November 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm

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