Social Media: A Social Net in Times of Disaster

By Patricia Martinez, Expedition PR

In February 2010, an earthquake of 8.8 in Richter scale shook Chile. People were in shock and desperately tried to contact their family and friends to see whether they were safe. Phone lines collapsed. After an emergency of such proportions, the only way to keep informed used to be listening to the radio; today people turn to Twitter and Facebook.

The hashtag #Chile was trending within minutes. It was the only way to get information in real time before the traditional media started to share the magnitude of the disaster, including which zones were more affected and how the authorities were planning to manage the situation, etc. In those circumstances, access to timely and accurate information is a matter of life and death. Twitter was the primary tool to locate loved ones, to know what had happened and where, especially for those with relatives out of the country.

Another example for the powerful use of social media is the “Arab Spring”. People used social networks to coordinate gatherings and for sharing information.

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