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

Blog #4: Disaster Response and Social Media

When a crisis or disaster occurs, whether it is on a local, regional, or national scale, we hear about it or see it through media.  If we don’t learn about it through the media, we learn from word if mouth.  This day in age, we don’t wait around to watch the 6:00 news if we want to know something, and want to know it fast.  We don’t typically think to turn on the radio to get the most reliable bit of detailed information.  We get on the computer.

The internet has become the fastest, easiest way to gain information about anything, not just disasters.  And just where do

we go when we log onto the internet?  Social media.  We log on to Twitter, to Facebook, sometimes robotically and purely out of habit.  We use it for study breaks, gossip, games, investigating, and in this case, an informant.  If I hear something significant by way of someone else, I will typically log on to twitter to see if it is trending, or facebook to see who in my circle has been effected by the news.  Even more so, I use social media to discover how people are reacting to the situation.

Social media first informs and then generates feelings and emotions about events that wouldn’t otherwise be expressed.  It has taken disaster response to a whole different level.  People can express their emotions, request help, suggest political agendas, document what they saw or heard in direct response.  It allows someone miles and miles away from an event to dive as far into the matter as they desire that they computer will allow.  Twitter users will often ask followers to “retweet” their post in order to spread the word about relief, or to spread awareness about an event.

With the recent tornados in Joplin, Missouri this past spring, the nation knew instantly of the gravity and grief of the situation.News stories and statistics about the catastrophe flooded into Facebook and Twitter, as well as prayers and well wishes. More importantly however, was the ability to use these medians as a source of communication for relief, victims, and other media.  According to reporters on the scene from the Wichita Eagle,

On social networking sites, people with ties to Joplin and even those without were calling for prayers for the city. Some people were quick to post that they and their families are OK, or to get the word out that loved ones were missing or homes were destroyed.

It is apparent that the general public has come to rely greatly on the use of the internet to gain access to information quicker and easier than any other source.  Social Medias such as Facebook and Twitter have become the front runners in this phenomenon, and have made a significant impact on the response to disasters around the world.

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  1. November 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Good post. Good discussion about how individuals use social media to engage in the disaster response even if that just means offering well wishes, prayers, spreading information, etc.

  1. November 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

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