Social networking site Twitter as we know acts as a fantastic lifeline between users, be it for sending messages (tweets) between one another or sourcing information. This has been even more apparent in the last few hours when a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit the North East coast of Japan.
Researchers from Kobe City University of Foreign Studies surveyed and questioned Twitter users and tracked updates from people in the disaster-struck area on the social media site two weeks after the Tohoku earthquake and devastating tsunami of 11 March; Twitter was the only functioning communication tool immediately after the earthquake; the researchers found that there benefits for using Twitter, such as bringing information to people involved in a disaster and to those hoping to hear news; there was a downside, though: Twitter helped spread unverified rumors and misinformation, causing people to panic in areas where there was no reason to panic, thus making the work of rescuers and service authorities more difficult; one solution: have the government itself use Twitter to offer reliable information to all involved
Websites, powered by broadband connections, became a lifeline for many when mobile phone networks and some telephone landlines collapsed in the hours following the 8.9 scale earthquake. For many, Twitter, the microblogging site and Facebook, have become the easiest, quickest and most reliable way of keeping in touch with relatives as well as providing emergency numbers and information to those in stricken areas.
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