Recently, tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma causing at least 24 deaths. As we enter into hurricane and wildfire season, it’s a good time to take a look at how social media has shaped disaster response. During times of crisis, those affected—nearly 1 million people are affected by disasters each year—are beginning to use social networks as a replacement for 911 call centers. In fact, 20 percent of disaster survivors now contact emergency responders via social media. Of those who do, 35 percent reach out to responders on Facebook, and 25 percent on Twitter. When Superstorm Sandy pummeled the east coast last fall, Instagram was a go-to source for people to keep their social networks updated. At its peak, Instagram users uploaded Sandy-related photos at a rate of 10 every second.
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