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October 29, 2012

Natural Disasters in the Social World


As Hurricane Sandy tears apart the east coast, many people have been forced to evacuate or relocate to a safer area. As any rational person would, these people are worrying about what Sandy is doing to their property while they are away. With social media turning anyone with a camera phone into a reporter, those displaced people have access to an abundance of photos from their area.

As Sandy encroaches on northeast, more and more people are uploading their storm photos to Instagram. The photo-sharing site is one of the most popular social services, and when a natural disaster occurs, people are all to quick to share their pictures. A quick hashtag search for #HurricaneSandy brings up a multitude of photos showing damage that has already been done. ( By actively following storm related hashtags, someone can easily stay up to date on the latest happenings. For example, if you were search for #Sandy around 3pm today, you would have been inundated with pictures showing a building on 57th and 7th in New York City. Due to high winds, a crane that was attached to a high-rise building collapsed. From the moment when the first picture was posted, people have been tracking its progress on Instagram and Twitter.

For people who are more focused on the status of their own neighborhoods, social media can help with that too. The hashtag-obsessed users of Instagram frequently tag their pictures with the name of their borough or neighborhood. For example, by doing a search for #ChelseaPiers, someone easily gains access to a variety of pictures showing just how high the water has risen so far. Has this storm affected your area yet? Check out Instagram to find out!

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