Social media has not received much respect as a credible news source in the past, but throughout the disaster it proved to be just that.
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are all social media outlets used by millions of people worldwide. They are used to keep in touch, vent, entertain, protest, inform, obsess, and much more. In the recent disaster, social media proved to be useful for more than just keeping the world updated about X Factor and what everyone had for lunch.
Social media offered a first hand perspective of the damage caused by Sandy directly from those who were affected. News stations provided coverage, but most of it was focused on the roller coaster floating in the ocean. Covering all of the damage is not a priority for the mainstream media, they want to cover the most important areas and the most bizarre situations.
No one can show what happened to homes better than their owners. Only the residents can really tell what Sandy has done to their neighborhood. Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, and Instagram give a voice to the victims in a way that the news cannot.
Now that social media is recognized as a means for communicating on a national scale, users rely heavily on it for updates and information. When people tweet or put a picture on Instragram saying they are miserable without power, they are not just complaining to their friends. They are putting their own experience into the world for others to read. Even Saint Peter’s used Facebook to keep in touch with the students and let them know what is happening on campus, after the power went out on campus.
Though Twitter is good way to complain to the world, it is much more than a public journal. Volunteer and fundraising organizations had the perfect forum to rally up support. People who retweet instructions on how to donate to the Red Cross are keeping the conversation alive and are playing a huge role in getting help. Each individual account is just a small part of a huge movement which cannot function without the participation.
Amateur videos, hashtags, and Facebook groups are most often looked at as a way of escaping boredom. This hurricane was extremely disastrous and social media played a key role in getting news out. People are able to find out exactly what people went through during and after the storm. The ability to inform has become much more powerful and respected. Taking pictures and videos can show the disaster in a way that that the news cannot. Twitter is full of raw uncensored accounts of what happened, and in today’s world these accounts are easily accessed, and no longer taken for granted.