How does social media help during times of crisis? As I sit down to write this post in the library, our school – MacEwan University – is currently making headlines. An online threat to the university was posted early this morning on an online university app called Chillabit (formerly Chitter).
With social media and online communication becoming a staple in our lives, we are now able to go onto our phones and receive instant updates relating to the ongoing situation.
Before any official statements were released by MacEwan, I received a text from a friend informing me that someone made a threat on Chitter and police are all around the school. It didn’t take long for me to go on Twitter and find a screenshot of the threat.
Within an hour, MacEwan sent out the email to all students and staff; mere minutes later, local news stations sent out their news crews to come and get information about the ongoing situation.
This whole ordeal draws attention to the advantages and disadvantage that can arise with using social media during a crisis – whether the crisis is warranted or not. In this year alone, there have been two instances of false alarms at major US airports.
In August mayhem erupted at LAX, causing the biggest disturbance to the airport in over 3 years. It all started with a threatening phone call to the airport. Shortly after the call was made, airport authorities responded to a man wearing a cape and possessing a sword. The suspicious person was dressed as Zorro to greet a friend arriving on a flight.
Enter social media: while Zorro was being questioned and subsequently released, Twitter and other social media platforms erupted with tweets about possible shots fired at the airport. Panic ensued and soon passengers were fleeing the airport creating a chaotic scene.
Social media can provide a great deal of relief during a crisis. Twitter has the emergency alert system, where you can sign up and will receive notifications when a crisis is occurring; Facebook has the safety check, allowing you to check in during a crisis or disaster to let your loved ones know you’re safe.
Despite the many advantages of social media during times of crisis, there can be situations where misinformation can spread and escalate a situation that, perhaps, is not as threatening as it appears online. I guess at the end of the day it is up to the user of social media to seek out credible information and decide how to respond.
Be known [Image file]. Retrieved from http://a2.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Purple62/v4/00/4c/3f/004c3f38-542b-d76e-b28f-fd6a422ceb1d/screen696x696.jpeg
Chillabit [Image file]. Retrieved from http://velocity.uwaterloo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Chillabit-966×530.jpeg
Feature image [Image file]. Retrieved from http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/154001/file-444642527-jpg/template_images/0e72edb152d77a11f50b8e3b7d41a1e4.jpg
Gorman, S. (2016, August 29). Social media adds to panic over ‘gunfire’ at L.A. airport: police. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-security-losangeles-idUSKCN114096
Graney, J. (2016, October 26). Man arrested in Sherwood Park in connection with threat against MacEwan University. The Edmonton Journal. Retrieved from http://edmontonjournal.com/news/crime/macewan-university-downtown-campus-targeted-by-online-threat
This app will change your life [Image file]. Retrieved from https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/j_lQ70lieVSXfcPqMAj74J0RxBSJwu0mNxjEjeMXm3TmVd0p-GKs1z2wicLfSETnBg=h900