The Power Of Social Media & Technology In The Wake Of Tragedy - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

The Power Of Social Media & Technology In The Wake Of Tragedy

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Google Person Finder Google Person Finder
American Red Cross Safe and Well American Red Cross Safe and Well
Associate Professor of Communication & Arts, Haven Simmons Associate Professor of Communication & Arts, Haven Simmons

WMDT 47 News – It was a difficult time for friends and family trying to reach their loved ones yesterday. But the internet proved to be the bridge of communication in the midst of the confusion.

"Social media is becoming huge in major events, disasters, catastrophes and in this case a terrorist attack. And it's helping a great deal in locating loved ones," Associate Professor of Communications at Salisbury University Haven Simmons said.

When chaos unfolds like it did during the Boston Marathon Bombing, and cell phone services go down, folks turn to technology like never before.  

Take Google's Person Finder site for example. It allows you to search for a person or leave information about someone's whereabouts. The Red Cross' Safe and Well web site has a similar concept. Then there's Twitter. It's not only being used as a source for news updates, but it's also become a tool to help authorities.

"The Boston Police Department is utilizing Twitter to develop intelligence and information about what may have happened at the scene. In addition to that, they are soliciting any visuals that people may have taken on their camera phones or other means and devices of recording what happened around the time of the explosions," Simmons said.  

For example, a picture posted on Twitter that was allegedly taken just moments before the explosions, reveals someone on the roof of a nearby building - a tip that could be very useful to police. But Professor Simmons warns it's important to take these tweets with a grain of salt.

"The authorities have to keep in their lane. They can't allow social media to drive what they do. They need to continue to hold the same traditional press conferences they always have. But they need to use social media to keep updating information and making it clear that they are the primary sources of information. And the way to do that against other information sources, is to keep posting your story," he said. 

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