Aussies take to Facebook amid disaster

Thursday, February 3, 2011

MELBOURNE - Australians shared real-time experiences on Facebook and Twitter as a devastating cyclone hit the northeastern coast.

A total of 23,141 tweets from 10,000 people were posted in the past 24 hours, The Age reported Thursday.

Others turned to Facebook to seek help with the most popular page, Cyclone Yasi Update, garnering close to 90,000 members. Over 25 Facebook groups were created for the cyclone.

Hundreds of houses were wrecked, crops devastated and public infrastructure hit following the Wednesday night storm, DPA reported.

There were no reports of death or serious injury. The cyclone unleashed 285-km per hour winds and generated massive downpours.

“The Queensland government and Queensland Police have pioneered the use of social media in times of crisis,” Thomas Tudehope, of social media monitoring company SR7, was quoted as saying.

Although mainstream news sources have been all over the cyclone story, Twitter and Facebook have proved to be invaluable in the distribution and coordination of vital information, said Tudehope.

The websites can be accessed through mobile phones even during power outages, which make it difficult to follow TV coverage.

“The sheer volume of traffic on Twitter is not only a reflection of the sheer scale of the disaster but also on the desire for information sharing at a highly localised level,” Tudehope said.

However, some information on Twitter was false. Police and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh were forced to correct the record, the daily said.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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