It's no secret that social media have been useful in spreading information (and sometimes misinformation) during times of emergency such as natural disasters and revolutions. Here is a TED Talk by Clay Shirkey where he gives some great examples of this in recent history.
Although major news outlets are important in distributing official information and fact checking, social media provide the kind of immediacy and collaborative reporting that would be impossible to accomplish for any centralized media source.
As hurricane Sandy moves in, the most current flow of information is coming from East Coasters, holed up in their apartments, waiting for the storm to arrive.
Use the hash tag #Sandy and see updates every few seconds on Twitter. People post messages of concern, share humor and photographs shot out of their windows and in their homes with their phone cameras. They also share links to useful resources, such as tips for emotional care for children in a disaster.
But almost as quickly, people are researching and debunking the images. A Tumblr page titled, Is Twitter Wrong? published this information about the above image, "(That’s from the well-known cinéma vérité documentary The Day After Tomorrow, in case you hadn’t spotted it. Here’s what it actually looks like at the Statue of Liberty right now. It’s… a bit grey and blurry. And very noisy.)"
For another chronological folk reporting, check out the Hurricane Sandy Liveblog where people send in their reports and texts to be published by two bloggers. The stories are mostly evidence of how people cope through humor. The images and short accounts are haunting as the storm gets closer and the gravity of the situation begins to sink in. One of the blog administrators, Brandon, writes that he is having a hard time keeping up with the incoming posts and suggests that people just post to the comments section to speed up the publication.
Sending good thoughts eastward and hoping the storm will pass with minimal damage to read about.
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