I’ve found that nearly every popular form of social media is being used in some way to bring aid in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake.

Twitter: of all of the social networking site in use, twitter is the one that seems to be the best suited for the situation, and twitters really stepped up. I found multiple news websites with twitter tweats rolling in as part of their news offerings. I also found a website that listed english speaking expatriates who currently live in Japan, and experienced the earthquake and its aftermath first hand. The website included the twitter handles for these each individual so that they can be followed and we can hear information first hand. Twitter also set up a way that their users can use the site to donate money to the cause. To be honest I didn’t think much of twitter in the past, but it seems to be evolving  from a shallow  gossip machine, and into something with atleast some substance and integrety.

twitter earthquake related hashtags:

General earthquake information: #Jishin
Requests for rescue or other aid: #J_j_helpme
Evacuation information: #Hinan
Confirmation of safety of individuals, places, etc.: #Anpi
Medical information for victims: #311care

Google: Google, as we discussed in class, has added an entire page worth of earthquake related resources. There’s a person finder aplication, person finder hotline, airport flight information, blackout information, lots of ways to donate money to charitys, and information on the status of local masstransit systems. Additionally, right after the earthquake had occured, google defaced it’s famously blank homepage screen with a tsunami alert in red capital letters. Thanks to google, even people who are cutt off from news have a better chance of being aware of impending danger.

Facebook: Facebook is the devil. I’ve said it many times before and I’m saying it now despite the fact that several support group pages have been set up to help people who are out of range of ordinary support systems cope with the grief brought on by the situation. I also stumbled occross a page created by the International Nuclear Power Councel that was being used by experts to discuss Japans powerplant situation, and to debunk myths. Facebook’s too slow and cumbersom to be used the way twitter is to update and inform us from the inside, but it does seem to be playing a fairly useful roll despite being the devil.

Utube: Utube has tons of network news broadcasts posted, as well as footage shot by people with camera phones and other devices that found their way to youtube long before the network stations had managed to broadcast much of anything on the topic. Youtube combined with camera phones seems to have spawned an era of do it yourself newsreporting, though as with anything that’s do it yourself, the reliability of the sources is always in question. Youtube also created their own person finder app. It consists of over 80 video messages of earthquake survivors filmed in shelters. People who are looking for a loved one can wade through the videos and possibly be reunited.

Blogs: Other than the usual proven reliable newsblogs, good blogs seem to be hard to find. While Twitter is doing a great job of connecting us with survivors storys, these survivors don’t appear to be fans of blogging, probobly due to the fact that twitter can be operated from any phone, and blogs require atleast a smartphone. I found reports that some less credible news blogs may be responsible for starting rumors about the dangers we may face as a result of Japans nuclear powerplant rediation leaks. Apparently it spread like wildfire that spinache and milk where tainted even though most of our supplys of both products are local, and nothing on our continent has been affected as of yet.

Even though things are a bit chaotic on on the social media sites with newsfeeds coming in from every direction, and only a very few having been proven legitimate authoritys on their topics, I still feel that social media is proving to be an invaluable resource these days when things go wrong. Honestly, even it the only legitimate and useful thing to be developed was a person finder, and all the other resources where garbage, it would be well worth tollerating their noise. That isn’t the case however. Nearly every site being used during the disaster seems to be adapting to make themselves more useful, not only durring the disaster, but beyond it. Disasters seems to being out the best in social media, and once we find a way to implement a little quality control, social media could become an incredible and integrated disaster reporting and relief system that traditonal media couldn’t even dream of becoming.

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