In the hours leading up to Hurricane Sandy’s landfall, people were getting their information from a number of different sources. One of the best sources for many proved to be social media. In fact, people were rapidly updating their social media accounts, making the platforms some of the easiest tools to keep up to date the hurricanes progression and stay safe.
With the real time updates from both the government officials as well as city workers, official reports were supplemented with updates from around the metro north area and in some cases beyond via pictures, video and updates. Once the worst of the storm passed, huge numbers were left without power, and social networks were the main form of updating loved ones via backup battery and mobile devices. As of 10 am Tuesday morning (October 30, 2012) the most popular shared terms by Facebook users included; “We are ok” “Power (lost power, have power, no power)” “damage” “hope everyone is ok” and the list goes on.
Furthermore, “A quick glance at the statistics showed that Hurricane Sandy made bigger waves than the presidential debates, with a Talk Meter rating of 8.34 (on a 1-10 scale) over the first presidential debate’s 8.18. Sandy’s 8.34 number also makes it the number two most buzzed about topic in 2012 so far, just following the Super Bowl.”
As for Twitter, it was (and continues to be) one of the only sources for people to continue to get information from using hashtags such as #hurricane. “Twitter was one of the largest go-to sources of the most recent updates by city officials, public transit authorities, and news outlets on top of the average tweeter sending in their perspectives of what was happening in their neighborhoods. The site also set up its own #Sandy hashtag page for news relating to the event, complete with top tweets of the most shared news links and photos. Twitter users were also able to search hyperlocal tags to check out what was happening in their neighborhood, such as #ConeyIsland, to see how the historic area managed on Brooklyn’s southern coast.”
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There were, however, a number of rumors that spread rapidly due to social networks. Many images from previous storms as well as movies were circulating around the internet, leading some to believe the worst. Nevertheless, in times like these, the real power of social media is shown. The ability for friends and families to communicate despite widespread damage was imperative, and wouldn’t have been possible without these social networks.
Source: Digital Trends.