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Social Media and Natural Disasters

By cecilyk |

So, I was chatting with a colleague at a client’s office  on the fourth floor of a small high rise when suddenly everything was shaking. Like the brilliant East Coast noobs we are, we all immediately ran to the floor-to-ceiling windows. We’d assumed it was something local, of course, an exploding power transformer or some construction that went wrong. As it went on, though, we were clued in that it might be something more, and the head of the company yelled, “Everyone check twitter!”

Not CNN.

Not Fox News.


Sure enough, within a few minutes I chatted online with folks from Ohio to North Carolina to Toronto that had felt the tremors of the strongest earthquake to hit this part of the US in many years (in fact it tied with the other strongest earthquake on record). It took traditional media nearly twenty minutes to get that same information on the air.

Social media, for the win.

Now as Hurricane Irene barrels down on the East Coast (people, take shelter! and evacuate if they tell you to evacuate!) – and here in Philly we’ve officially reached freak out stage – I find myself not only worrying about things like holy crap we have a lot of windows and great, the basement is where my mother LIVES but also about other, equally important things.

Like, will my iPhone hold enough of a charge to get me through a power outage so I can follow the storm on Twitter? And should I go by a charge holder just in case?

I think I should. Don’t you think I should?

That’s a yes then.

So, while the United States Geological Survey posts oh so sexy maps like this about the earthquake…

…Gizmodo is kind enough to instead share the map you see above, which shows the way the tweets spread the news about the earthquake (go to the source to see the animated version).

I know, I know. Yeah science!

But animated tweet maps? Swoon.

What can I say? I’m a social media geek.

Sue me.


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About cecilyk



Cecily Kellogg writes all over the web, including here at Babble for Voices and Tech. She neglects her own blog, Uppercase Woman. Read bio and latest posts → Read Cecily's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Social Media and Natural Disasters

  1. JJ @ Reprodcutive Jeans says:

    I went straight to twitter — it was the first place that I found out what I was feeling wasnt just the garbage truck going by. Yay twitter! That map is awesome!

  2. Nolie says:

    News always breaks first on twitter now. Normal media can no longer keep up.

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