Social Networking Drives Japanese Quake Stories Home

by Jordan Richardson on March 14, 2011

There are those who still believe that Internet social networking sites exist for small niches of people, but every world tragedy these days seems to test that logic profoundly.

With the massive 8.9/9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hitting Japan on March 11, social networking proved an immensely useful tool to providing information. Pictures and video have been streaming in since it happened, with more people sharing information about this event by the minute. Users of Facebook and Twitter are trying to find information about loved ones in Japan and, with phone lines to the country jammed, the Internet is proving a most valuable tool in this incredibly trying time.

There have been a number of unique stories about the use of social networking during this catastrophe, including word that CyberConnect’s Hiroshi Matsuyama opened his studio up to people in need by sending out invites on Twitter.

The U.S. State Department took to Twitter to post emergency numbers and to inform Japanese residents in America how to get in contact with the right people to receive information about loved ones in Japan. Relief organizations also used Twitter and Facebook to get the word out about how to send in early donations and how to help.

Top trending topics on Twitter including #prayforjapan and #tsunami, with both taking flight shortly after the events occurred. In my own late night experience safe in Canada, I watched most of the events unfold live as streaming video came in from Japanese network television. The surreal sense of connection we can feel in North America with our brothers and sisters in Japan and the Pacific Rim is stunningly heightened using modern technology.

Social networking also opens up a realm of reporting and eyewitness news seldom seen. While there are obvious cons to this style of news-gathering, the emotional power of the information coming out of Japan is hard to ignore. Mashable reports some 1,200 tweets per minute coming out of Tokyo alone less than one hour after the initial quake. These tweets turned users like myself to live feeds on sites like Ustream and Al Jazeera, representing a change of pace from the typical sensationalism of American-based news broadcasting.

Google is again offering its People Finder resource and is helping connect people to the information they need.

In times like these, it’s important to remember we’re all connected on some very basic level. Social networking at its very best can help foster those connections, putting us in touch with one another and helping the world’s most vulnerable in their hours of need. While many claim that technology isolates us from the broader human experience, these events remind us that these tools can also bring us closer together.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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