August 12th, 2010
08:57 AM ET

In a crisis, social media are popular options

Would you try to Tweet your way out of a flood?

It turns out many people would resort to social media in the event of emergency, according to a survey from the American Red Cross.

The organization asked more than 1,000 American adults aged 18 and older about their social media participation and how they would react in a crisis. The findings were released ahead of Thursday's Emergency Social Data Summit in Washington, D.C. Here's the full report from the survey.

If calling 9-1-1 was unsuccessful, about one in five respondents said they would use digital media, such as e-mail, websites or social media, to ask for help in an emergency. In the past, 16 percent have used social media to get information about a crisis, the report found.

Almost half of respondents said they would use social media to tell loved ones they are safe. Of them, 86 percent would use Facebook, with a smaller portion turning to Twitter and other tools. If someone else needed help, 44 percent would try to get help by asking others in a social network to get in touch with authorities.

Those who are savvy about social media expect that means of communication to deliver results fairly quickly. About three-quarters of participants said they would expect help to arrive within an hour if they posted a request for help on a social media website.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it's younger people who are more likely to request help from social media or text messaging. Only 39 percent of people over age 35 said they would ask other people on network such as Facebook to help them get assistance, whereas 55 percent of people aged 18 to 34 said they would.

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Sean

    This is an interesting question, and I honestly have to say that I would resort to my twitter if I couldn't get 911. Better yet, use twitter to explain your emergency and 4sq to pinpoint your location.

    August 12, 2010 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. pedro

    we have used facebook.......

    August 12, 2010 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Marilyn

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    August 12, 2010 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tbone

    Why not just call a friend or family member on the phone instead of tweeting or texting? That's what a "phone" is for. I just don't get it. Why are people afraid to actually "talk" to each other anymore. Just blows my mind....

    August 12, 2010 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KPMCO

      People may resort to instant messaging/tweeting because cell phone reception may be very bad, but an available wi-fi connection can get a message out. Wi-fi hotspots can change the dynamics when cell networks are overloaded or unavailable.

      August 12, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • myopin

      I'm a big user of social media, and I call people all the time, meet them for coffee, show up at their birthday parties etc. Its a common misconception that people who use social media dont connect personally and that couldnt be further from the truth, most of us love socializing and its just one more form. I lose my cell phone from time to time in the house, I post a message for someone to call me to find it and it works everytime. Its also great for advice or referrals and to sell stuff.

      August 13, 2010 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    I work with a group of developers in Manila, they are also good friends. When the typhoon struck their island and their phones were down and they had no electricity we used the Facebook Blackberry App to locate everyone and to be sure they and their families were in good shape. Thank God everyone was fine.

    August 12, 2010 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. LAMott

    My family found out that my brother's house burned down from Facebook. He lived in TX and we were in MO. One of the kids was connected to his wife and saw a comment from a friend of the wife. All their phones had burned up along with wallets and purses. He had no numbers to call us and he and his wife were in shock as they barely made it out themselves. Facebook alerted us so we could update him with email addresses and phone numbers.

    August 12, 2010 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Don

    It's how people stay connected these days, so it seems logical that when something catastrophic happens, the first thing you do is let your extended support network in on it after the 911 call. They might really be able to help, both physically and mentally.

    A year or so ago, there was an uproar when a woman tweeted that her baby was dead/dying in the hospital after falling into the pool and asking for prayers or something to that effect. People viciously attacked her, calling her a monster and claiming her child would have lived if she didn't use twitter. But what else could she do? 911 had been dialed, the kid was in care... to me the next logical step if something awful happens is to get it out. In dire straits, one tweet/status update could attract infinitely more attention than making a phone call.

    August 12, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Ed

    Unemployment rate is 9.5% for the country and for the Black Americans the unemployment rate is approaching 20%. I have been out of work for over a year......have over twenty -five years of sales and business development experience, I worked for companies such as DuPont, Xerox, SBC. Prospective employers like my experience/background listed on my resume, but when they discover that I am Black, l end up not getting the job. The government need to take a closer look into companies EOE hiring programs. Racism is out of control in corporate America.

    August 12, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marcus

      What does this have to do with the article that was wriitten.

      August 12, 2010 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • Uhhh...

      And what exactly does this have to do with the use of Social Media in a crisis. Go complain elsewhere...

      August 12, 2010 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      And this relates to social media how?

      August 12, 2010 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
  9. LouLou

    In a crisis, I turn to the green stuff.

    August 12, 2010 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
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      April 9, 2012 at 06:19 | Report abuse |
  10. Katze

    Well, it is true that during a crisis , social media is easier and reach people faster. The following case is a real and current crisis, Please I know you might say this is not the place, but I really don´t know what to do. there is a 3-year-old girl, Romina Cornejo Ramos, who was shot during a robbery four days ago. The incident left her quadriplegic. Please if you know any charity organizations that may help her get specialized care. Please I am begging you let them know about her. She lives in Lima, Peru. Her case is on the local news. Please think about this little child facing this devastating situation.

    August 13, 2010 at 03:30 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 11, 2010 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Charlotte Roofer

    I would much rather use the phone, this way I know I have touched base with a live person as opposed to waiting for someone to respond . Besides it's much quicker to just dial 911 than to log on and write a msg!! http://www.room2roof.com

    February 24, 2011 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
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  14. Jasper

    Interesting question. I'm not sure if I would remember to do that in this kind of situation. I appreciate the article, though. I was reading because I'm interested in southlake energy . Does anyone have any advice or knowledge to share with me?

    March 7, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Santos

      I'm having the same perblom here, as well as several friends here in Brazil are also having this perblom, not just repair the game, not something as simple as it seems. actually dont is a good time by this inconvenience (low players in US Server) --------------------------------------- editing the message: i ask my friends about this and only in my msn i found 9 more friends here in Brazil also with this perblom. редактировалось: Dec 15 2011 02:42 PM UTC (2 д. назад)

      April 8, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
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