Blog 4: Utilizing Facebook & Twitter During Disaster Response
When evaluating the effectiveness of Twitter and Facebook in disaster response it is important to assess how the two social networking sites fit into our discussion of the duty to inform because the sites are a heterogeneous channel being used to reach heterogeneous targets. During this period of informing the information must be easily understood and accessible, and these sites meet these requirements.
Both Facebook and Twitter are widespread social networking sites, making it easy for information to spread quickly through their users. In March 2011 Twitter reportedly had 175 million users. Facebook currently has more than 800 million users, 50% of which log in on any given day. Facebook also offers more than 70 languages and has mobile device capabilities. With all of these users not only does information spread quickly, but with diversity such as Facebook information also spreads to multiple groups of people (targets).
In addition to acting as a method of quickly spreading news to multiple targets, social networking sites can also act as alternative means of communication. If there were a disaster in which phone and/or TV communication were not accessible, these sites could be the medium in which people stayed informed on how to prepare, what actions should be taken, and the updates of the disaster.
Below is a link to an example of how Twitter can act in regards to a disaster. MyJourneyNews tweeted: “Thailand flooding update October 31, 2011: Yingluck says flooding…” The link then takes you to Newley.com where the flooding in Thailand is reported on. The information seen in the link in this tweet provides an overview of what to expect in the coming days of the flooding, images of the flooding, a map in which allows people to get an idea of flooding in specific areas, and related news articles.