Social News: Chile’s Earthquake Shakes Up Social Media

On February 27, 2010, just outside of Chile’s second-largest city, Concepción, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the area. It wasn’t long thereafter, that social media was feeling the aftershocks.

First, it was Twitter: Because of twitter’s accessibility via text message, many locals were updating their twitter pages in an effort to tell others that they were okay and safe. Other users were using it to get in contact with locals to try and find loved ones. Twitter instantly became a back and forth of information about those affected.

Hashtags such as, “#terremotochile,” “#Chile,” “#ChileEarthquake” were being used to centralize tweets about the quake. Many users were retweeting missing persons tweets, in an effort to reach more people in the Concepción area.

@SherylBreuker, in particular, tweeted “Any info on Maria Alicia Moya, please update http://tinyurl.com/yfjtzed or contact @kencamp or @sherylbreuker ASAP #chile #quake.” It wasn’t long after, that Maria was found and @sherylbreuker tweeted “we just got word that Mariali is safe and ok thanks to an amazing new friend and the power of Twitter! OMG! Awesome!!!!” This is just one instance of how social media helped connect people.

Another is Google’s Person Finder app, which was used in Haiti in January after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Port-Au-Prince, was relaunched for the relief effort in Chile. The app gives up-to-the-minute information about nearly 63,400 records to those providing (or seeking) information about those affected by the earthquake. Although the information is not verified, it still provides a resource for families and friends to find missing loved ones faster than an agency could.

It works simply by providing the user with two buttons, “I’m looking for someone” and “I have information about someone.” The user selects which one and enters the information accordingly. It also provides a map pinpointing aftershocks.

(Credit: Google)

To some, social media is a stupid time-suck, but in times of crisis, it saves lives, helps connect loved ones and keeps people better informed at a faster rate than mainstream media outlets.

Text your support:

1. Text the word “CHILE” to 25383 to donate $10 on behalf of the Habitat for Humanity

2. Text the word “CHILE” to 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of World Vision

3. Text the word “CHILE” to 52000 to donate $10 on behalf of the Salvation Army

4. Text the word “CHILE” to 85944 to donate $10 on behalf of International Medical Corp.

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