Joshua McLaren: What are you to seeing, especially in disaster space, in terms of the influence of these [social media] companies? Is it positive? Is it is it negative? I’d love to hear from your perspectives.
: I would say that it’s a mixture of both positive and negative. In terms of Facebook, I will give them credit for their Crisis Response
pages. I wish they had come earlier. That was actually the big draw for me to even go to social media was the ability to keep track of friends and family and whether they were okay. There’s that immediacy if you think of, say, the Pacific US tsunami, back in—what was it—1964. Think about the difference between having that tsunami alert come and knowing about it and now.
I was actually online when the when the big tsunami hit Japan, and we were all watching live video. We knew what was happening. I was able to call my father and find out about his colleagues, like, right away. There’s an immediacy to knowing what’s going on. On the flip side of that, you’re getting a perception of what’s going on. The feeds will light up with people saying things that may or may not be true in the in the construct of emergency management.
So, what’s actually happening and what people can see and what they put out—that can be vastly different than the on the ground situation, because they’re operating in a bubble. And they’re not—I won’t say everybody is not involved, obviously, there’s some people in emergency management. But even some people who are in the emergency management world may not be on that incident.
So it’s really important to look at those feeds in a context and keeping in mind that there’s extraneous information coming in, even from people who are professionals.
Colleen Hagerty: And I would absolutely agree with Mar that I think it’s really hard to say this is a good thing or a bad thing. Because even on an individual level, you can go to an area that was hit with a hurricane and ask someone, well, how did social media impact the way that you were able to recover from this? Or what role does social media play for you in this? And you’re going to get vastly different responses.
You’ll have one person who says it’s been incredible, I was displaced from my community, and I can connect back with those people through a Facebook group. We can share resources, I learned about something I wouldn’t have known because I’m in a different state so I couldn’t see the FEMA booth that popped up. It really has been transformative for some people in giving them not only resources, but a sense of connection that, before social media, was really severed, especially with events that caused evacuations and mass displacements.
At the same time, you talk to someone else and they’re gonna say, well, it’s been terrible for me because I was the victim of a scam, or I followed misinformation and then I wasn’t able to—even if it was something, a mistake as small as someone putting the wrong date in for when someone could go pick up resources, could go get socks or food or something they really needed. And those small things happen all the time. But for someone who just went through something so traumatic, that can be enough to really set them back.
So, I think as Mar was saying, I mean, it’s so important to consider from a large standpoint, but I think even from that individual person, that individual community, you’re going to hear really different things. And it’s tough to say, you know, we should get rid of this, or we should encourage this, because it’s just so varied.
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