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The Impact of Social Media on the Earthquake in Chile

Posted on March 1, 2010 by Josh Mc

Now, while I must disclose I am the resident advocate for the adaptation of all things social media at the Gordian Project, arguing against the effectiveness of social media becomes difficult when horrible tragedies like the earthquake in Chile are brought to light via social networking. Like Haiti before it, although not as wide spread since the economic conditions of Haiti do not allow for as much social media from its residents, social media is helping us put a face and image on the catastrophic 8.8 magnitude earthquake that happened over the weekend.

Within hours of the earthquake hitting Chile, Mashable was able to compile an entire article of Chilean earthquake pictures as tweeted by the people there. These pictures are both amazing and heart breaking at the same time, but it allows us, the followers in the United States and throughout the rest of the world, to see what is happening and connect with them. People tweeted pictures of their bedrooms with the ceilings caved in on their beds, pictures of their neighborhood in shambles and pictures of entire bridges collapsed. Through this kind of social movement, we are able to share with one another as a global community and bring an even deeper sense of recognition to events taking place around the world.

Chilean Earthquake Damage shared via Twitter user conycampos

Further displays of the power of social media have been seen among individuals. One woman was actually able to connect with local officials and find her family members (who were without a phone) through the help of Twitter. Below you can find the comment she left on the above referenced Mashable article.
“…my sister-in-law was in Santiago and we couldn’t find her. No text, no phones, nothing. We were able to make contact with locals using twitter search to follow hashtags and several people contacted us asking for details. One of the locals looked for, and FOUND my brothers wife, 2 hours after first contact. I am so thankful for social media, grateful to the power of networking and beyond ecstatic my sister-in-law was safe and her home intact.”
Imagine the relief felt by those worried about their loved ones that have their prayers answered through simple and immediate interaction with twitter followers that are willing to help in a crisis.

Lastly, Ustream decided to run live video of local news broadcast on both the earthquake in Chile and the Hawaii tsunami warnings. They have stated that over 4.35 million of these streams (like this one) have been viewed.

I have no doubt that aid organizations are already working on the best ways to get in and help the people rebuild their lives; however, it is simply amazing to see this kind of interaction and support from people in the social media community. It also goes a long way to be able to put a face and a video to the crisis instead of plain newspaper text. I am sure it will help people to be more willing to donate and support relief groups helping Chile in their time of need.
Have you seen any other great ways that social media has been helping the Earthquake in Chile?


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