The Role of Social Media throughout the Disaster

Social media plays an important role for the modern people. It has become an integral part of life for millions of people around the world now. These services allow people to form groups with others who share their interests. Sometimes people do not even realize how much time they may spend in the Internet looking at fascinated events occurring on the network. Different events are occurring with every person and everyone is eager to share it with others. In addition, they can conveniently search for former classmates, colleagues, comrades and friends from other cities. For this reason a lot of people spend a lot of time on these sites, talking with old friends and finding new friends. However, it is important to note that not everybody think about the advantages and disadvantages of social networking. What are they really?

Social media has a lot of positive qualities. First, as already mentioned, they allow people to stay in touch, even if they live in different cities and even countries. One can fully communicate with family and friends, share with them one’s life, to demonstrate them own photos, provide links to interesting sites. Today, however, social medias are not only used for entertainment purposes. Currently, many are looking for work through them, some you to educate themselves, and the number of those who found their second half and thanked to the services is growing. And yet, social networks are not only advantages but also disadvantages.

Surprisingly, the shortcomings of these services are nothing more than the flip side of their merits. Therefore, everyone knows that social networks are a good platform for versatile communication. However, many are so immersed in this communication that do not notice anything around. For days they sit out on their favorite sites, constantly looking for their friends and exchanging messages with them. Work and study at the same time often go by the wayside, because they are much less interesting than the opportunity to follow the life of inseparable friends.


This paper is focused on such question discussion: 1.What does social media mean for the modern people? 2. What are advantages and disadvantages of social media? 3. What us the role of social media during the disaster and how it can be helpful? 4. What was the role of social media during the disasters in Haiti, Japan and Thailand?


This research proposal is focused on the understanding of the role of social media in people’s life, how it impacts them and what results of this impact. It is important to note that most part of paper is focused on the discussion of the social media usage during the disaster, how it can help to struggle for people’s lives that occurred in such situation. The period of research proposal is 2009-2012 years. The disasters that are discussed in this paper had happened in Haiti, Japan, Taiwan during last few years.

The limitation of this paper lies in the lack of authoritative sources of information and specific data according to the topic. The main sources of information are articles from the news sites and informational sources.


This research aims to find out the social media role in people’s lives and it specific role during the disasters. The information is examined from the articles about the disasters that had happened in Haiti, Japan, Taiwan during last few years. Therefore, the main objectives of this paper are:

to investigate the role that social media plays in life of modern society;

to determine how social media has changed the life of people;

to find out the role that social media played during last catastrophes and determine how it had helped;

to assess the role of social media during future disasters and how it can be used effectively in order to bring as much benefit as it could.


Social media has become an integral part of our society. But, apart from purely entertainment features, the online communities are able to benefit society. In particular, transferring and accumulating operational information of the hot spots and the epicenter of disaster. As communication on the Internet can help those in need?

There are lots of facts that can prove this. As an example of the effectiveness of social media can result in the recent event - the deadly earthquake in Haiti, which according to the latest research killed 75,000 people.

Information about this through the use of social media, lightning sold around the world: messages, posts, videos, photos. As a result, all people saw the terrible tragedy unfolding in Haiti (  A lot of catastrophes had happen there: the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and the last was the explosion at the plant. World was shocked and many people wanted to express their condolences to the victims and to help. And social networking is the best way to do it. Thanks to social media, many public people - musicians, actors, politicians - have provided financial assistance.

"It is not necessary to pack your bags and fly to Japan to help. There are many ways to express support online, by means of money or words. New technologies are helping hand, even growing virtual crops. Every detail is important," - writes the blog Mashable (Parr, 2011).

Ahead, of course, is Facebook. One way to find out about what are the projects of charitable organizations in support of Japan, and also donate money online is an application Facebook Causes. It has more than 20 million users, which shows the extent of involvement of the Western community network into a tragedy. In social networks, in the very first hours after the disaster fund has been opened to the earthquake. In the end, it was managed to raise a few million dollars. And now, the fund continues to be active. Neither the media could not in time to mobilize the population around the globe.

To help the victims in Japan can also be done through the purchasing of virtual goods in games. In particular, software company Zynga, offers users of their games to donate money through the purchase of gaming artifacts. 100% of the proceeds from the purchase of special products in applications CityVille, FarmVille and FrontierVille, will go to fund Save the Children, which will be sent to Japan. Zynga helped out in the campaign about $ 2 million. In addition, users have created a special Facebook page in support of Japan called for prayer for the country, the number of subscribers exceeded 190 thousand.

Another good example of the effective usage of social media in emergency situations is the event of landing of American Airlines US Airways plane in the Hudson River in January that happened some years ago (Guardiannews). First picture of the event was done on iPhone and posted to Twitter. With this in no time was organized rescue operation and none of the 148 passengers and 6 crew members died. Professional journalists arrived on the scene much later. Neither the media would be unable to match the speed of response to social media. In today's world of social media has largely assumed the role of the mass media, and for professional journalists have become indispensable helpers in their daily work.

The important role of social media was proven during the disaster in Taiwan (Winijkulchai, 2012). The information about survivors, people who needed helped were hardly given to the government services, because of poor technologies. And in order to help people the Internet and social media were used. The website of catastrophe and the page at the Facebook and Twitter were created, in order to give the ability to post photos with people that need professional help. This was possible only because of technologies development as the phones and other digital devices have ability to make photo and post it in the internet. With the help of social media lots of lives were saved.

Right now all the humanity may be on the verge of a new, truly global world, where people from all over the world can quickly and effectively to support those who are in need, even if they are separated by thousands of miles. It may be seen as a symbol of brotherhood of all people on the planet. One can only hope that the government will appreciate these perspectives and will treat them with due to the care and endeavor to further its development.


In order to have authoritative research proposal the qualitative and quantitative research methods were used. Quantitative data was collected from the news cites that informed about the quantity of suffered people, damage, material losses, etc. The qualitative data and its analysis are used in order to give the explanation and interpretation that were shown by quantitative study. During the paper writing, analytical methods of research were also used with the purpose top give critical information about the role of social media in the discussed disasters.

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