We all know social media is a tool used for updating people on your day-to-day life. You can post when you’re hungry, what you ate, who you saw, and funny photos in one Facebook status, tweet or Instagram photo. And in our world, it’s a powerful tool for brands to build loyalty and engage with customers and fans.
But what if I told you that social media is also saving lives? During a tragedy, social media has been saving lives, alerting loves ones and directing victims to aid resources for years.
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy swept through the Caribbean and up the U.S. East Coast. During this tragedy, 10,000 Instagram photos (#sandy) were uploaded per second, many with geo-tagged data. This was a resource for recovery agencies to see where relief efforts were needed most.
Recently, Twitter was a valuable resource for sharing information after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck southern Asia on Oct. 26, 2015. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre tweeted what the magnitude of the earthquake was, where it could be felt and where to find more information. Police and government twitter accounts posted emergency contact information and phone numbers for rescue & relief services that users could retweet to reach more people. Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s chief executive, also tweeted live updates while meeting with government and disaster officials.
Social media is also a valuable platform to raise money for victims. In April, Facebook launched a ‘donate’ button to help raise money for emergency rescue and relief services after the earthquake in Nepal. The donations totaled more than $10 million. As of August, Facebook offers the ‘donate’ button to all nonprofits allowing users to donate to their favorite cause easily.
By tweeting updates and emergency numbers, many lives have been saved. Twitter is a quick and easy way to spread important information and will continue to help throughout the coming weeks while people scramble to get a hold of loved ones and raise money to repair the damage the earthquake created.
Social media has evolved over the years from a mere communication tool to a lifesaving apparatus. With so many uses, social media will continue to have an impact on society for years to come.