Social Media in a Time of Crisis

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In the wake of yet another shooting massacre in the United States, we find ourselves shocked and saddened for the victims and their families.  Those of us far removed from the disaster of last Thursday night’s shooting massacre at the premiere of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ struggle to find a way to ‘help’ out or make a stand.  In the modern social media era, we do what do we best; we tweet, we Facebook, we blog and we give our support to the victims the only way we can.

Over the years, Facebook & Twitter have emerged as primary means of communication, especially during times of disaster and tragedy.  The outpour of support and funds that have already gone out to the victims and their families could not be matched during the times of ‘pre-social networks.’  With the hashtag #theatershooting swarming around twitter by major celebrities like Morgan Freeman, and major geek websites like Thinkgeek.com, one can donate as much as one likes with ease.

One of the first major disaster relief efforts that benefited from a Social Network buzz was the Haiti relief effort after the devastating earthquakes in 2010.  Red Cross held a monumental texting campaign that raised over 10 million dollars and it counted on Social Networks like Twitter & Facebook to spread the word.

One of the most fascinating things about the Colorado shooting case, as the police desperately dig for the ‘why,’ is the fact that the alleged shooter, James Holmes, has absolutely no social footprint anywhere to be found.  No Facebook page, No twitter handle, no linkedIn Profile, not even a blog.  About 81% of 18- to 29-year-olds in the United States use social media at least occasionally, said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.  So the fact that this 24 year old college student didn’t have a single social profile may have been a red flag unto itself.  Now, not to say that not having any online profiles/social networks makes you a mass murderer, but according to research, you are in the minority.

With all the amazing things that social media can bring in a time of crisis, unfortunately comes the bad too.  Privacy is essentially out the window for the victims and their families and everyone on your news feed suddenly becomes the judge and jury of the case.  However, it does appear that over all, the impact of Social Media during a time of crisis is exponentially greater than the negatives that inevitably follow it.  Ultimately, as we at Webhead Interactive ponder the effects and ramifications of social media on this tragic and senseless event, our deepest thoughts and sympathies lie with the victims and their families.

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