How social media helps in times of a crisis

Hands holding a bucket that asks for donations for Japan Earthquake and TsunamiDisaster in the Pacific March 11, 2011

With everything going on in Japan, the devastation, and the heartbreaking images, it is good to know that social media is making a difference and helping people get in touch. The number one priority after a natural disaster for families is finding out whether their loved ones are safe. Many took to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to somehow reach out and let others know they were alive. These platforms were a direct link between those affected in Japan and their worried family members. While individual emails and texting can take too long, one Facebook post or tweet can get a particular message out to a massive amount of people right away. Not only is this helpful because it reaches a large number of people fast, but also because as reported all over the news, phone networks in Japan have been down since the quake.

The potential that social media has is just reiterated when things like this happen. As this horrible tragedy was occurring, witnesses were out with their video cameras and posts appeared on YouTube almost instantaneously. By the afternoon, more than 9,000 earthquake-related videos and 7,000 tsunami-related videos had been uploaded to YouTube, I read in a post. Many celebrities took to Twitter to urge followers to #prayforjapan, which quickly became a trending topic. Twitter and Facebook are also a place where many spread the word, just like during and after the Haiti earthquake, that donations could be made to the REDCROSS, by texting 90999. This is also a great tool, because it requires little effort and many people are probably more likely to donate per text, than through the website.

We are very fortunate to live in a time where information travels so fast. It is important that we use these tools to really help others and ourselves to be better every day!


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