High school students, like me, had one of those moments in life wishing that classes will be suspended on the next day. Well, who wouldn’t?, just by feeling the cold temperature, I would definitely think of my bed, hugging my teddy bear, watching my all-time favorite dramas while munching some unhealthy snacks and worrying nothing. I could even remember those days where I am wide awake until the middle of the night waiting for some news about the suspension of classes especially when there are bunch of quizzes waiting for me.
Leaving behind my fantasies and memories, let us proceed to the main topic. So, what is the role of social media on providing information during calamities? Let me give you a list and I will discuss each briefly, after.
- Provides valuable information to those in a disaster area pre and post disaster (via Internet, if available, or SMS updates).
- Drives awareness to those outside the affected areas, generating volunteers and/or donors.
- Connects displaced family & friends.
- Provides information about unclaimed property, and in worst case scenarios, bodies.
Social media helps people to be updated before, during, and after a disaster which is definitely helpful. It gives warning to those people in the area that are affected and gives some signal to prepare and evacuate as much as possible. It will also provide info where to evacuate and when will the people can go back to their places safely. Through this means, it could prevent further number of casualties.
Disaster means washing out number of houses in the affected area, and victims of such definitely need a helping hand. Through social media, it helps on reaching out for other people to lend some donations for the victims. Also, the news could spread not just in the local but also outside the country which is good since there are foreigners and OFW’s that could aid some help.
When disaster came, we cannot help but to worry about our love ones especially to those who are out of our reach. We get concerned of their safety or whether they are in good hands. Through social media, we can easily check their status if there are safe or not. Remember the new feature on Facebook? Where we can tell our friends that we are free from the danger? Here’s a photo:
Unfortunately there are casualties in most of natural disasters though the government is trying their best to prevent the increasing number. The social media had helped the government on relaying information when there are unclaimed bodies and properties. Since it would be faster to relay news on the information, it would be an easier work for the government.
We can definitely see how the spreading of information had developed and helped the country from the old media that we are used to. Though there are disadvantages on using social media as source f information such as the validity of some information, unlike the traditional media (TV, radio and newspaper) we can definitely verify that the information is true especially that emergency management organizations cooperate with media producers to ensure that the information broadcast is current and correct. Also social media can be a handy resource in crises, people must be careful not to take their access for granted during emergencies. Floods, fires and earthquakes often disrupt the power and communications infrastructures that smart phones rely upon. Even though, the social media is better when it comes to the speed of spreading information. Unlike the traditional media that we need to wait for the news, morning paper and radio broadcast before we get to know what is happening outside of our houses. In spite of our concerns, it is encouraging to see an organization such as Facebook taking responsibility for its users and entering the crisis communication space.