Social networking as crisis coverage

Earthquake in Japan shakes up social networking

On every newspapers’ front page and television news’ headlines Japan is receiving extensive coverage on the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami crisis including destruction at a nuclear power plant. The whole world is tracking the developments and countries are sending their volunteers to help in search and rescue missions. Times like these we thank globalization for bringing states together so that the impact of the disaster is alleviated by the support from various world leaders. Social Networking has become a platform for people to voice fears, traumatic experiences and debates regarding how the crisis has been managed. Social networking is helping out once again as it has done in the past with the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.

Social networks have become a saving grace for those looking for family members and friends as mobile phones could not call out, but could access social networking sites. Communication proved to be difficult as the tsunami caused electrical blackouts and congested phone networks as a result of a flood calls for help. So whose been lending a helping network?

  • Twitter: Japan has 10 million tweeters. Twitter has added special links, which takes users straight to information and updates. They also put up tips on how to connect to family members and friends on the site, train schedules and location of shelters. Twitter’s trending hashtags popped up on social networking sites and blogs.Popular trends include: #JPQuake and #prayforJapan. Less than a hour after the earthquake Tokyo sent out 1200 Tweets per minute.
  • Facebook: 2 million Japanese people use Facebook. The site has set up a page where users can donate money or help toward aiding those in Japan: Global Disaster Relief on Facebook. ‘Share the Japan Flag’ is a Facebook campaign to show support.

Google People Finder App

  • Google:  The People Finder application (in English and Japanese) shares and gives information on missing people. The app is linked to Google maps and emergency response units.
  • Mixi:  Mixi has over 20 million users. It is the biggest social network site in Japan.


Mixi: Japan’s largest social networking site

Japan is in a state and things just seem to be getting worse.  The aftershock of the earthquake caused explosions at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant and twitter erupted with comments and debates from Japanese civilians questioning the need for nuclear energy and the potential hazards. One tweeter comments:

@saltfish_nsk “First and foremost, Japan is an earthquake country. Why do we need nuclear power? Any accident is the same as the A-bomb. It makes one wonder what have the government has learned from the past.”

Solana Larsen the editor for Global Voices (a community of bloggers who translate citizen driven media into various languages) warns tweeters “against alarmist tweeting that could cause panic”. Global Voices has been covering and translating citizen news of the Japan saga.


During disaster the benefits of social networking is fully realized as victims tweet distress calls and information of their location. Unbelievable cell phone videos or hand held camera recorded footage of people in their homes when the earthquake hit was put up on Citizen Youtube, which is a platform where ordinary citizens can send in newsworthy clips. Through Facebook sites the world is made aware of the devastation the earthquake has caused and is stirred into action to help in any way possible. Analyst Brad Shimmin from Current Analysis commented, “From what I’ve seen today, social networks have brought out the best in people, not only encouraging them to take action but also supporting them in those efforts to bring relief to the victims of this catastrophe”. The technologies which most thought would isolate human beings have instead united them.


About nicobaleng

My paradoxical love for the web is feeling immense freedom while confined to a seated position behind a desk. This is what the world wide web has to offer. Learning about the latest technological toys or playing around with programs sounds like nerds-play, but once you start exploring, the pc monitor in front of you becomes less and less intimidating. Tracked and documented I will share the journey of an average Joe like me, moving up toward achieving a black belt in web design! KAPOW!

Posted on March 16, 2011, in Geeked Up and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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