Digital Media Twitter preferred place for disaster response in PH
Social media has now become an integral part of the Philippines’ efforts to raise the effectiveness of its disaster response and crisis preparedness strategies. Twitter has particularly emerged as a preferred channel for both government and its citizens to work together in securing Filipinos from the effects of climate change, conflict and other crises.
The latest example of how Twitter is valuable in crisis situations would be the current conversations on #MayonVolcano, which has primarily focused on ensuring the safety of those within the danger zone. Authorities and media have been actively sharing advisories on Twitter to provide updates on alert levels, and guidelines that help citizens understand health and safety procedures.
The Philippine government has been promoting the use of unified hashtags to monitor, track, and consolidate information before, during, and after a natural disaster strikes. Specific hashtags have been consistently used in all instances of natural or man-made calamities for relief operations and aid missions, such as #ReliefPH.
Citizens also use Twitter to find missing loved ones, and share stories and messages of survival and support. #RescuePH is used when victims need to be rescued, with users providing information on their exact location, name, and contact details; while #SafeNowPH is used to inform others that they had already been rescued or out of danger.
Hashtags relating to weather and disasters are also used, like #earthquakePH, which shares information about earthquakes, aftershocks, and evacuations related to earthquakes. #BagyoPH (stormPH) is used to provide information on storms and typhoons, like signal strength and path direction. #FloodPH is also used as an alert system for heavily flooded areas. Currently, #WalangPasok is used year-round across the country to give timely notices to students and workers on suspension of classes or offices during floods and other disruptive events.
Media, citizens, non-government organizations (NGOs) and corporations have been using Twitter to help mobilize government agencies and speak on behalf of victims who needed aid, real-time.
At no point in the country’s history was this more evident than in the wake of #YolandaPH, when people from all over the world called for help and donations on Twitter. This interactive map shows every geotagged Tweet mentioning the word ‘help’ (in 22 different languages) combined with key terms around the disaster.
Filipinos have embraced Twitter as an effective means to communicate and collaborate during natural disasters. It has also become a tool for motivating Filipinos to take civic action by volunteering, donating or even simply sharing situation reports.
When disasters strike, networks and data connection go down. It’s important that people are able to stay connected and updated on what’s happening in the Philippines and around the world. This is where data-friendly platforms like Twitter Lite come into play. Twitter Lite is a faster, data-friendly, and more accessible way for Filipinos to keep abreast of breaking news, or post live Twitter updates of emergency situations on-the-ground. Once loaded, the information on Twitter Lite can be accessed in offline mode as well. Twitter Lite is available at mobile.twitter.com — on smartphone or tablet in 42 languages including Tagalog.