Social Media and Disaster Response

I live in Edmonton and I go to MacEwan University; a university you may have heard about in the news because we had one of the first shooting threats in Alberta at our City Centre campus on October 25, 2016.


The shooting threat was broadcasted on social media; specifically on the mobile phone app Chillabit. Cillabit is used almost the same way as Twitter, people share their thoughts, in 140 characters or less. The main difference is that you cannot “share” posts and you can only react to posts by “up-voting” meaning that you like the post or “down-voting” which means the you did not like the post. Another main difference is that you need to be in a post-secondary institution in order to make an account, and you can only post so that people at your school can see, making it so everyone knows what school you attend.

The shooting ‘threat’ was a post on Chillabit.


This person had created a whole world of trouble for themselves by making this post, that caused him to eventually get arrested. What is amazing about the way that this shooting threat was handled is that the majority of information were spread throughout social media.

News outlets (on TV) were reporting on the threat, interviewing scared students but watching something happen on tv is very different from watching something happen in social media. The news networks reported on tv but they only had so much air time so it was nearly impossible to follow the entire event and get all the information as soon as it becomes available. People inside the school were keeping their friends and family updated with updates of what was happening on campus. Updates were happening every hour at least. Social media really has the upper hand while reporting a crisis because it keeps us up-to-date and gives us all the information we need in a timely manner.


The Original Poster who created the threat then took to another form of social media before being caught. He left a distressing message on Reddit which is a blog type of social media, where the OP asked the people using Reddit for advice on what he should do because his ‘threat’ was meant to be a ‘joke’. The only ones laughing are the people in the judicial system.

People who were following the ‘threat’ on social media would have seen this post on Reddit or shared on other types of social media. By the time the news networks reported on the Reddit pot it was old news, and people were no longer fearful of the potential shooting. If people only followed the events outside of social media they may have been scared longer because the news networks and newspapers are a lot slower at spreading news than the people on social media.


This shines a light on social media, the future of news in regards to disaster response. We are now able to follow exactly what is happening as it happens, making it much easier for us to be alert in a disaster situation like a potential shooting. The only issue we may have is if we lose wifi during a crisis. In that case we’ll just have to stick to newspapers, if social media doesn’t make them obsolete within the decade.


car picture:

Chillabit screenshot:


information: my own, but for specifics…

Background photo:


One thought on “Social Media and Disaster Response

  1. I remember this, I got the social media ding when I was on my way to school via the bus. It wasn’t enough to deter me from going, but the warning helped me stay aware of my surroundings (just in case).


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