Social Media’s Role in Disaster Response


Disasters are bound to happen across the globe. Whether it be Mother Nature destroying everything in its path or an attack on people by people, there is no easy way to avoid disasters. But thankfully, there is a way to aid those who find themselves in the middle of these disasters quickly. That way is called social media. Now I know that social media sometimes doesn’t get the best rep and it may not be the perfect disaster response tool. But for what it can do in mere seconds is undoubtedly impressive. The fact that a post on social media can be made in seconds and be broadcast to the world (at least to anyone on social media) is nothing short of incredible.

In my last post I discussed how social media was used during the tragic Pulse shooting in Orlando. Look at how social media played a part in the disaster response for Hurricane Sandy. Many used social media platforms to locate lost family members, and victims used these tools to locate help whether that be food or a warm place to stay. The same thing happened during the Fort McMurray fire. Many clamored to Facebook to offer goods, services and opened their doors to those who had lost everything in a matter of moments.

On the flip side, social media can be used in a negative way in disaster response as well. During the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, many people using Reddit attempted to locate and identify possible suspects leading to many placing the blame on a man of Middle Eastern descent found through internet sleuthing. This man was not the culprit of these attacks, and was later found dead, leaving his family in the middle of an internet storm while trying to mourn a terrible loss. Social media definitely has a place in disaster response, through assisting those who need it most. However, we should leave the investigations to trained professionals.



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