Social media can be extremely helpful when it comes to responding to disasters because almost EVERYBODY has social media, which means EVERYBODY will have the chance to hear about the dangerous situations that are happening and these situations can be responded to instantly. The number one thing that social media is used for during a disaster is making the public AWARE of the situation. Before social media existed, imagine how frightened and panicked communities would be because nobody knew what was really going on until they turned on their televisions and waited for the news to mention the situation. It took forever! NEW media is amazing because we can learn about the situation in a matter of seconds. We can get information and warnings quickly and if needed, we can send out requests for assistances. That’s spectacular!
Sadly, like everything else, there are downsides to using social media in response to disasters. For one, we do get our information, but how do we know if that information is accurate? The one advantage to our “old ways” is that even though it took forever, television news or newspapers would NEVER give out information unless it was 100% correct. On the other hand, there are so many people that use social media, and let’s be honest, some of those people like to throw out rumors or pranks because a community full of panic is hilarious to them. As horrible as this may sound, it is true but it is not the only issue. There could also be those who feel like they do have accurate information and they let it out even if it might be wrong. Once it’s out there, it doesn’t matter if its right or wrong, it will be seen.
In a disastrous situation, the last thing anyone wants is panic and while social media can be big help in these situations, it can also make them worse. Not always intentionally but you get the point. I am sure we all understand that there is no way to stop the negative of social media so all we can do is accept them and hope that the positives override the negatives. As time goes on, social media will continue to grow. So why stress? We just need to learn how to pick out the right information from the wrong in these types of situations. That’s all we can do.