The Use of Twitter in Times of Crisis
by Chuckie Corra, Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 02:43:31 AM EDT
I was once a skeptic of Twitter. It didn't seem to serve a very beneficial purpose to me, and I didn't find it to be as good of a social networking tool as Facebook. I registered for a Twitter account, mostly out of spite, to see if I would like it or could find use of it. This particular account was dormant for the better part of a year.
Twitter made news headlines a lot after the Iranian presidential election in 2009, where a base of protesters rallied support when many other media outlets/communication was blocked. I was still a skeptic of twitter even after this, although I certainly saw its merits.
Then came the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. I stumbled upon twitter a day or so before because an op-ed I wrote was retweeted by someone, so I decided to log on to see if I could get wrapped up in the cocaine-like twitter phenomenon.
Once the mine disaster had occurred, I tuned into the Rachel Maddow Show to see Charleston Gazette Veteran Reporter Ken Ward Jr. being interviewed. At the end of the interview it was mentioned that the public watching could follow Ken Ward for mine updates on twitter as they were developing. I did just so.
Literally every 15-20 minutes Ken Ward would update via twitter the continuing news of the disaster, keeping myself as well as many others informed well before any news outlet could. In times of crisis, this type of information is of great importance. When people needed to hear news of the developing aftermath, they would refer to twitter instead of other news sources because Ward was reporting right from the source.
(as a side-note, I cannot commend Ken Ward Jr. enough for the up-to-date information at ground zero of the mine disaster. Incredible reporting and truly an asset for the concerned and distraught members of the state of West Virginia who wanted to stay informed as much as possible)
Though still not a double-digit tweet a day twitter junkie, I have started to use it more and have seen firsthand the use it offers in times of crisis. Social-networking has become truly a revolutionary tool in politics and emergencies, as well as many other situations and outlets.
Just some food for thought.