Social Media

Facebook, Twitter Lend Hand to Japanese Survivors

With the tech-savvy country of Japan facing the threat of nuclear meltdown amid the recent earthquake and tsunami that hit the country, many are turning to different routes to learn of news of their loved ones. Take college student Akiko Kosaka of Minamisanriku, who frantically searched online for news of her family.

First she received word her youngest sister was likely safe at school. Then, via a link sent to her from a Japanese social network, Kosaka saw a YouTube video featuring her sister holding a sign declaring “we are all safe” from a balcony at the family’s home.

Kosaka, a Japanese student currently studying English at the University of California at Riverside, is relieved at the news, as are the countless others who have gotten word from relatives. At a time of great crisis, with death tolls mounting and threats of a nuclear meltdown never ending, the world has turned to social networking sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook for the latest news. Google has also stepped in, launching a “People Finder” service, allowing people to both search for loved ones as well as upload information. The site, accessible in multiple languages, already had the information of 45,600 people by Saturday morning.

On Twitter, concerned citizens posted information on shelters taking in survivors, train schedules and tsunami alerts. Facebook users posted information on where to donate funds to relief efforts and organizations, while many survivors able to access the Internet have used the site’s messaging system to send word. This isn’t the first time social networking has helped aid those in natural disasters- last year’s events in Haiti and Chile also saw the same kind of actions to provide word and relief.

This is the way we should use social networking sites. Instead of negative activities, why not use these platforms for a good cause. Social media is a powerful tool, it is in our hands on how we will use it. We can getfans and support a particular cause.

Talk about convenient- being able to send messages knowing they’ll get them, and knowing someone will know you’re safe. At a time of great technological advancement that one might first see as purely entertainment, it’s definitely inspirational to see what these outlets can be used for. No longer is Twitter merely a source for status updates and hash tags; Facebook is more than a source for vacation photos and baby pictures. For those in Japan fortunate enough to have Internet access, they can send word of their safety, as well as find out where to go for safety, food and shelter. At a time when people definitely need it most, help is not only available — it is plentiful.