Social mediums have been extremely helpful in the wake of Japan’s recent natural disaster. From Facebook and Twitter to Google and Red Cross pages, people everywhere are capitalizing on the unique strengths of each type of network to help and find help.
Because Japan’s internet functionality wasn’t affected as an outcome, these tools and portals that aid in basic communications on a day-to-day basis have become a crucial necessity and many times, a saving point. With conventional communication tools cut off, social media has allowed people to stay connected.
Throughout the day, 4.5 million Facebook status updates from 3.8 million users across the globe mentioned “Japan, “earthquake” or “tsunami.” Tweet-o-Meter reported that less than an hour after the quake, the number of tweets from Tokyo exceeded 1,200 per minute and the top trending topics on Twitter included #prayforjapan, #japan, #japanquake. On YouTube, “tsunami” is the #2 global search term and in Japan the top two search terms are “tsunami” and “earthquake.” According to YouTube, a search for tsunami-related videos will deliver over 25,000 results from the past week. Many videos with over 11 million views (Mashable).
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has sent out messages to the U.S. citizens of Japan, encouraging Americans “to continue [their] efforts to be in contact with [their] loved one(s) using SMS texting and other social media that [their] loved one(s) may use.”
The embassy also suggested that American citizens in Japan use the Google Person Finder and the Red Cross’s Family Links. The Google Person Finder allows people to leave information about their current situation or provide information about a missing person. At the time of writing, there are more than 400,000 cataloged records. The Red Cross site works in a very similar fashion, publishing a list of people who are alive or people who have been indicated to be missing.
YouTube has also just launched the YouTube Person Finder. The Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS), a major Japanese TV station, has been shooting video messages at shelters around the impacted areas with hopes that these videos will reach other loved ones. As of now, there are around 90 uploaded videos. YouTube plans to increase the scope of the site allowing other TV stations and networks, as well as individual users, to upload their own videos.
Many other social media and communications portals have been doing their part to aid in the relief efforts as well. Some are making it simpler for people to stay connected, others are providing donations or helping collect them. Companies like AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon have let subscribers make free calls and send texts to Japan for the time being.
We use social media every day, we use it to share information, do business, stay connected- we use it to get by. But in times like these, we see the true potential and the benefits of it. In times like these, social media is vital.
Our thoughts are with all of those affected.