It is without a shadow of doubt that the Internet and social media continue to show its growing importance in the global awareness of the uprisings in Africa and the Middle East.
Facebook initially displayed the power of information in the twin disasters—typhoons Ketsana and Parma—that hit northern Philippines in 2009 and claimed the lives of more than 900 people with combined damages worth over US$654 million. Information sharing and communications made relief and rescue operations more coordinated.
This time, together with Internet blogs and one of Japan's networking site, Mixi, the multi-billion dollar networking site with over 600 million users and the microblog, Twitter, proved once again of the Internet's burgeoning importance in times of crisis.
The Japan Times said that compared to the 1995 Great Hansin earthquake in Kobe, aid and rescue operations following Friday's cataclysm were improved significantly in terms of better coordination, foreign rescue missions immediately knew the priority areas—what and who to send in which places—what things were needed, and disaster response was more rapid.
The Palo Alto-based and San Francisco-based companies remain the most commonly used tools to those who were victims of the temblor that had so far killed over 2,000.
With most telephone lines cut, Facebook, Twitter, Mixi, and Internet blogs were the main communication lines of people to find their loved ones, update regarding their safety, and the current situation in a particular area.
On the down side, the social media can create public havoc when used irresponsibly. Rumors of the threat of nuclear meltdown spreading overseas have alarmed many people.
Believing unverified text messages, classes and some government offices in Cagayan De Oro in southern Philippines, were closed on Monday. It seems that the Filipinos are overreacting than the Japanese in this aspect.
The unfounded text message said, "BBC FLASHNEWS: japan govt cnfirms radiation leak @fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries shud tke necessary precautions. Remain indoors first 24hrs. Close doors n windows. Swab neck skin w/betadine wr thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first."
In addition, the debate whether or not the radiation waves had hit the Philippines has reached one of my Yahoo groups.
Indeed, one must be conscientious in sharing information. The public should not trustevery news that goes around. The best way before reacting is to search for other reliable sources of data before disseminating them.
Details of this report here.