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Social Media in Disasters

Social media has become an increasingly prevalent staple in our society. Social media refers to any Internet-based applications that allow users to communicate with one another and share resources and information. This also presents an opportunity to quickly broadcast warnings and new information to diverse groups across the population in times of emergency, especially with recent events involving hurricane Florence. With this technology, we can prevent communication breakdown when relying on just one communication platform and can more effectively diffuse warning messages. Social media can be used even beyond improving general preparedness and raising public awareness about disasters, it can also act as a surveillance or monitoring system of the disaster through crowd sourcing when a situation may be difficult for professionals to get access to. It can also be used to provide real time information and alerts like emergency phone numbers or evacuation routes.

Not only can social media act as a platform for issuing warnings, but it can also help in the process of providing aid and recovery. Many choose to use social media to indicate a willingness to help in the event of an emergency and having the ability to spread information about the disaster quickly can improve disaster response by mobilizing volunteers further from the crisis to relay information to emergency services. Social media can also aid in identifying survivors and victims and can help reassure that family or friends are safe. Finally, social media can be used to improve recovery management by communicating which areas need recovery efforts and can also provide information to those experiencing similar disasters in the future.

The article conveys the importance of social media in times of crisis. Despite its often-negative reputation, social media can be beneficial to those experiencing a disaster, especially in the speed and ease of transmitting information back and forth. This article also reveals underlying graph theory concepts in that social media posts or alerts can act as a bridge between different people, whether it be a disaster victim communicating with their family or strangers posting information on how victims can get help in their current situation.


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September 2018