After yet another natural disaster in the form of an 8.8-magnitude earthquake off the coast of central Chilean coast this past weekend, social media is playing a positive role in the recovery, and Facebook’s Global Disaster Relief page is part of the movement.
The need for people to stay in touch in times of crisis is supported by the stats: Facebook updates containing the word “earthquake” numbered almost 860,000 on Saturday, after the earthquake. The day before that, there were only about 37,000 mentions of the word. Status updates after the Chilean earthquake mentioning ‘Chile’ reached nearly 1350 per minute, and sustained a rate of 1,000/minute long afterwards. The figures do not say exactly how ‘Chile’ was used in said updates, but presumably users were consoling, querying or informing others about the tragedy.
Of course, this isn’t the first time social media has been used in this manner, after some form of crisis somewhere in the world. The Haitian earthquake in Jan 2010, and incidents in Mumbai and other places in past years, come to mind, after which Facebook, Twitter and other social media site content would trend to related topics — sometimes even breaking news, and often spark campaigns to raise relief funding.
What Facebook has done in launching their Global Disaster Relief (GDR) page — in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti in Jan 2010 — is offer a central spot on their site where people can find information about initiatives, share what they know, or simply stay connected. The page now has over 500K fans, and intends to cover any world disasters. At the moment, there are postings about the Chilean earthquake and the recent Tsunami that had been heading towards Hawaii.
There’s also a link, on the left sidebar, to AppSpot’s “Person Finder: Chile Earthquake” application (available in both English and Spanish). Using this app, you can post a request for information about someone you are trying to find, or post information about someone, to help friends and family find each other. Also check the “Other Pages” tab on the GDR page for links to other “socially conscious” Facebook pages. The “Links” tab filters the GDR page’s status updates and shows only those that share a link.The “Causes” tab