The power of Social Media (in times of tragedy)

The devastating Queensland and Victorian floods in January and the horrific earthquake in Christchurch yesterday have shown the quick power (and empathy) of the social media community.

I am a proud New Zealand citizen, but also live very happily here in Australia and the recent natural disasters in both countries have affected me personally with my family and friends being involved.

The power of these networks during both these natural disasters has been astounding. Within in minutes of the earthquake hitting Christchurch yesterday, people were posting on Facebook that they were ok to let loved ones know they were alive, or on a sadder note, people were using message boards on to ask about people they hadn’t been able to get a hold of.

With the phone lines often being jammed during both tragedies, Social Networks have been an important way to inform families about the safety and situation of those directly affected by both countries’ natural disasters

Twitter and Facebook provided another communication portal to let people know the situation on the ground level during the Queensland and Victorian Floods. People were being warned about dangerous areas to avoid, where people needed help through these portals.

Not only were these networks used for personal use, people have been sharing messages about where to go to donate money and supplies for appeals to help the survivors of both countries.

Yesterday it took about 30 minutes for the majority of my friend network on Facebook to showcase the same status update regarding keeping the phone lines free so survivors could call for help and where to go to donate for the earthquake appeal and in less than 5 hours yesterday, the all mighty Google had built an application to help people post information about people, or search for information on missing people.

I personally would like to thank those on Twitter who were trying to help me find out what was happening a flight that was due to land in Christchurch half an hour after the earthquake hit yesterday that had my partner on it. The support that was shown to me personally was amazing.

The power of these networks is the people behind them, using them. It’s fantastic to see what these networks can facilitate in times of crisis, and heartening to see the messages of support and love during these horrific events.

Image credit on Flickr