The Social Media Effect After a Disaster

After watching the deadly earthquake and tsunami roll through Japan early Friday, I was in shock at its widespread damage. At the same moment, I was also in awe of the amazing footage and robust content that reporters had to share with the rest of the world. Social media has also played a big role in reconnecting loved ones across continents or across town. Even with power and phone lines down, Japan’s Internet is still, for the most part, up and running. Services like Google’s “Person Finder” and the Red Cross’s “Family Links” have given families a way to try to search for information on a missing member. There are about 193,800 records alone on Person Finder that are specific to Japan’s recent disaster.

Above and beyond the sites that are set up specifically for disasters, are the normal social media sites that people all over the world use every day. Facebook and Twitter have been inundated with messages connected to the disaster. Less than an hour after the quake, Twitter was reporting over 1,200 tweets per minute coming from Japan related to the event. Facebook was also blanketed with shouts of joy when missing ones were found or with cries for help when someone was frantically looking for a loved one.

No one can deny the sheer power of this storm and how crippling it has been to the Japanese, but one can argue that advanced technology, coupled with the free-flowing conversation of social media, has helped to bridge the communication gap that usually follows a disaster. At a time when people only have landline telephones “for emergencies” or for “when the power goes out,” it’s great to see that the Internet was a major source of information during this most recent disaster.

In closing, I wanted to share this video with everyone. This shows the outright rage of the tsunami and how quickly it progressed to be a wave of mass destruction.  What’s so great about this video is that it has gained millions of views in its various forms on YouTube, in just over 4 days!

Author: John Mehl


2 responses to “The Social Media Effect After a Disaster

  1. I hadn’t seen that video. Absolutely insane.

  2. This is exactly a little something I must do more research into, appreciation for the posting.

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