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The Power of Social Media During Times of Unrest

The Power of Social Media During Times of Unrest

Posted on Mar 28, 2016 by

This past Tuesday, another deadly attack struck Europe. Belgium was hit with two horrific explosions at the Brussels Airport and one bomb at the Maalbeek Metro Station, leaving 25 civilians dead and 136 severely injured. Despite the devastating incident that left the entire world shaken once again, the crisis communications effort that was implemented during these terrorist attacks were exceptional. This effort was largely due to the powerful impact of social media.

Within seconds of the massive explosion, the Brussels Airport’s Twitter account began to live-tweet the incident, keeping everyone fully aware of what was Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 2.36.50 PMgoing on every few minutes. They warned people not to come to the airport way in advance, while also letting passengers know that all flights were cancelled for that day and the next. Twitter was the fastest way to provide instant updates, which helped to keep everyone as safe as they possibly could at the time of the event.

Facebook also played a crucial role in connecting the entire world together at a time of unrest. By turning on the “safety check” button, the GPS locator on Facebook was able to reach out to the civilians who were currently in or around the Brussels area. These civilians received a notification asking them to mark their status during the incident so that they could let their families and friends know that they were safe.

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Social media has become one of the most effective sources of information, as it connects people from all over the world in ways that have never been done before. In times of unrest, the fastest way to make sure a person you know, or an entire community, is safe is through interaction on sources such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Reddit. While social media has been given the reputation of having a negative effect on society, it is important to look at the other side and to recognize that it has benefitted our world in more ways than one– especially during these timely crises.

Jenna Meltzer

Public Relations Student at UT Austin; Social Media and Marketing Intern at HMG Creative; Follow her on Instagram @jennameltzer

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