Home > Social Media > Social media shows power after Japan quake, tsunami and other global events

Social media shows power after Japan quake, tsunami and other global events

COMMENTARY | Being an early riser, it means I’m also asleep rather early and miss some things that happen overnight. My first news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan came via Facebook at around 5 a.m.

The first post on my news feed said “Holy (expletive)! Wake up, look at Twitter. 8.9 magnitude. This is horrible” from my friend Rob. I immediately opened my Twitter and was shocked at the reports I was seeing. I follow several media organizations and as the reports rolled by, my eyes filled with tears.

There is no certain death toll yet from the 8.9 quake that led to the tsunami in Japan. As the waves rolled across the Pacific Ocean toward Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, I worried about friends in those areas.

After offering prayers and thoughts to the victims in Japan, Twitter influencers began using the power of the tweet for a larger good. The first time I saw the “Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the international relief fund for Japan” in my feed was mid-morning from chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern.

The message spread quickly. Celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers were sending the message: the Red Cross needs help. Other common trending terms and hashtags included #japan, #tsunami and #prayforjapan. They even managed to keep that #winner with #tigerblood off the trending list.

In this social media society, people around the world are connected quickly. Global-level events aren’t just left to the news networks to report. People in the midst of tragedy and those who care are intertwined by the power of 140 characters.

The tsunami is just the most recent case of Twitter spreading the word globally.

2011 Egypt Riots

In this case, the Egyptian government shut down access to Twitter as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets. While millions of tweets containing the #Jan25 hashtag continued to flow, Google and Twitter joined forces to create a telephone system that would translate message into text with the #egypt hashtag.

2010 British Student Protests

Students protesting higher university fees in London complained that their tweets were being suppressed. Their hashtag – #demo2010 – was continually pushed off of Twitter’s trending list and the company called the allegations “absurd.”

2009 Iran Election Protests

I wasn’t a part of the Twitterverse when the company delayed a system upgrade to allow student protesters to be able to continue sending messages. As the Iranian government moved to shut down the voices of dissent, the protesters took to their streams.

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor.

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