Posted by: Clarinette | March 11, 2011

Twitter effect on natural catastrophes

Latest on Fukushima nuke plant incident, click on pearltrees to access the links.

It was interesting to hear yesterday during the official conference press in Japan that authorities invited population to exclusively follow official recommendations. They discouraged them from following Facebook or Twitter and warn them against chain emails.

Between different views and communications. I have been following @GillesKlein “Journaliste print and online journalist in Paris/Boston” and @Martyn_Williams from Tokyo “Multimedia Ed & Tokyo bureau chief at IDG News Service. Cover Japan for PC World, Macworld etc. Producer of Akibatteru. Former FCCJ president. DPRK IT watcher” as well as the tweets and translations of @makiwi from Japan, France or Switzerland.

Lots of different information and expert explanations can be found within my pearltrees. Interesting facts about previous incidents that had previously happened in this same nuke plant.
This last blog post that comes contradict many of the other experts is of a particular interest to see if it will be confirmed or contradicted:

Why I am not worried about Japan’s nuclear reactors.’ post is by Dr Josef Oehmen, a research scientist at MIT, in Boston.

It has been more than a year that I have taken the time and the pleasure of following events and news through Twitter. The impact of social media on privacy is undeniable. Social media reveals the world to users and users to the world. I started by the IranElection movement, the earthquake in Chili, in Haiti, the Belorussia protests and more recently the Middle East events from Tunisia, Egypt, Lybia and its spread in the whole Arab world.

Before writing any deeper on that very exciting subject, let me show you how, social media, and I will mainly concentrate on Twitter, can play a new role on information communication in the case of a natural disaster.

Much have been said about Twitter, I am not personally very happy with who is behind Twitter and how it treats its users. Nevertheless, Twitter has bring a new dimension into the world of news and knowledge share.

Let me take the case of the earthquake in Japan which has already his Wikipedia page. It’s only this morning that I became aware of the disaster by looking at my Twitter timeline. Very quickly, I could read news from all over the world published on Twitter. I reproduce here some of them that I have curated on my pearltrees (you can simply click on each pearl to open the link).

On Twitter, I receive the news in French , In Spanish , in German and of course in English and other languages. Not ony the language differs but if you looked at the link, you’ll see how the ‘angle’ of the information can differ. I am no longer ‘swallowing’ an information but ‘measuring’ it and making my own understanding of the relativeness of the news. Tweets show me where to watch videos online and online means, for most of us, accessible from everywhere.
If I wanted to have an idea of the cost of the disaster in this very special part of the world, here comes the news. I also need to learn which measures should be taken to protect from the tsunami.
I needed to understand why the Tsunami in Japan with some scientific explanation.
I needed to know the situation in the whole Pacific region and eventually take appropriate security measures. Late in the morning, @AnnCurry tweeted advising to wake up people in the LA to warn them as the coast was going to be heated at 8:45 local time.

@AnnCurry: Tsunami expected in Los Angeles at 8:45 am WEST coast time. Wake people on the coast to warn them.

I retweeted although the information checked online did not corroborate. I tweeted back @anncurry for confirmation.
I could access travel advices, learn that Google had set up a person finder.
Get the latest official positions on the nuclear power plants.
Eventually, get a glance of Twitter reaction against CNN. Follow the competition between AlJazira, France 24 and the German Zeitonline on who could bring the freshest news. Was even amazed on how, very wisely, some were calling for news from people on site.

@_pidder_: German Newspaper’s Twitter-List #earthquake #japan: Can anyone recommend user in Tokyo? Please report to @zeitonline

These are the news I found interesting to collect, they are not all.

Tell me how else I could learn as much if no Twitter.
Tell me how I could be so well informed if no internet.
Yes, internet is not all good,
Yes, Twitter is a threat to my privacy, reputation, etc…
But what is 100% safe?
Just lets us learn how to use/how to protect/how to spread/how to analyse data.
Yes, not all on Twitter is true but it’s amazing how fast mis-information or wrong information is denied on Twitter.

Impressive pictures and videos have been already posted.

Follow my pearltrees curations for news and knowledge. Use it and pass it on. They are quite a useful tool to bookmark and classify links.
I should soon come back to this subject and the celerity of news spread and its imperatives in this era of data business.



  1. Your observations are spot on! My ealry morniong experience mirrored yours. I learned more on twitter than the morning news. An additional point can be made. A friend here in Chicago tweeted early this morning that while phones were down in Japan, he was ablwe to verify on Twitter that his friends in Japan were all safe. So not only is twitter a great news stream, itr also can provide valuable lines of communication at times when communication is crucial. And what is especially interesting is when there are live tweets from the scene without the misinterpretaion of news media people who get the information second and third hand.

    • Thanks for your comment Tom. You are absolutely right to remind the crucial effect of social media as a mean of communication. A Tweeter bud of mine is behind ‘Haiti Connect’, offering Wifi connection in Haiti after the earthquake. Some laughed at his charity aim. It is actually of great help in case of disaster to be able to re-establish communication. Passing on information, reaching people in distress in order to rescue is very important in time of crisis.

  2. I never knew your frined was behing Haiti Connect. When i was there in June, we had horrible probl;ems with connecting, had to use the hotel to get online. The folks I was with must not have known about it. We begged & borrowed to get a conmnnection. So, yes, communication is vital.

    When a charity group io worked with were in Copenhagen for COP15 – we set up a twitter hashtag for all to follow. It was very effective – since the delegates were spread out. Someone would call a meeting and post time and place on twitter using the hashtag!

  3. He is Evert Bopp. Here is about Haiti connect

  4. […] Twitter effect on natural catasrophes « IPrivacy4IT – Clarinette's … […]

  5. […] On Clarinette’s blog the fact that social media can play a new role in the event of a natural disaster in spreading news quickly is considered in the Twitter effect on natural catastrophes. […]

  6. […] You remember my post on ‘Twitter effect on natural catastrophes‘ […]

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