Facebook has become a staple for both personal interests and business matters and is on point to reach 1 billion users by August—that’s 1/7 of the world’s population. Twitter, the other social media giant, has greater than 140 million active users.
Because there are so many users, and because we spend so much time on it (average of nearly 8 hours per month, per user for Facebook alone), social media has become a great channel for asking/giving help.
For years now, non-profits and charities have used social media to run campaigns, ask for donations/sponsorship, gain awareness and promote their causes, but just recently, people have started to take advantage of social media’s reach to distribute SOS messages.
In the past few years, there have been several instances where people have used social media to communicate with rescue crews or loved ones when they couldn’t get to a phone, or if phone lines were inaccessible. Missing person reports and important alerts and emergency response messages are also being delivered regularly through sites like Facebook and Twitter, simply because no other channel can reach so many people in such a short amount of time. The social space is the most saturated marketplace for dispersing and receiving messages and the public is finally starting to take advantage of this shift.
Below are a few local/national crisis’ with which people have used social media to let loved ones know they were okay, or to ask for medical assistance.
-In the Aftermath of the horrific tornado in Joplin, MO in May of 2011, the city’s newspaper, The Joplin Globe created a Facebook page that would help tornado survivors to locate missing family members, or to let loved ones know of their safety and location. For more information please click here.
-After and during the Mumbai Terrorist attacks, hospitals and volunteers were actively tweeting contact numbers, emergency response services, and requests for blood donors in nearby hospitals. Twitter users were also engaging in citizen journalism where they were reporting and uploading pictures as the events took place, and as a forum for getting in touch with displaced or missing family and friends.
Mashable did a survey asking people how likely they would be to use social media as a way to communicate their safety to loved ones…here are the results:
28% said they definitely would
21% said they probably would
22% said they may/may not
13% said they probably would not
16% said they definitely would not
Would you use social media to let your loved ones know your safety? Would you answer a tweet or Facebook post that asked for medical assistance? Please leave your comments below!