The Power of Social Media: The Floods in the Philippines

Social media networks have become a critical tool for humanitarian work around the world, especially during disasters. Here is an article by Filipino student Julius Rocas posted on Global Voices that looks at how citizens  employed social media not only to spread information and accounts of the flooding in Manila and other parts of the Philippines but also to mobilize and coordinate relief efforts for those affected by the relentless rain.


1 Response to “The Power of Social Media: The Floods in the Philippines”

  1. 1 Chan Pui Ki, Kiki 22/10/2009 at 9:47 am

    This example in the Philippines once again shows how social media is empowering people.

    I think the mode of two-way communication is the key for the popularity and success of social media. Anyone who has access to it can contribute. This allows the revelation of first-hand information which may be too much in amount or too trivial in nature that traditional media overlooks it. This also bypasses traditional media, or state media, which may only publish information in line with its ideology.

    In such totalitarian regimes as China and Iran where media censorship prevails, social media provides an alternative source of information. Following the election in Iran, Twitter became an important source of news when foreign media was barred from reporting the mass demonstration. In China, social media provides a platform for organizing and mobilizing people online which is otherwise banned in practice.

    Social media influences not only the political arena but also the corporate world. For example, Dave Carroll, after trying in vain to seek compensation from the United Airlines for the damage done to his guitar, posted the song “United Breaks Guitars” on YouTube which attracted millions of clicks. The airline finally offered him flight vouchers.

    This case reflects the power of the word of mouth, which does potentially affect corporate image and consumer preference. Some companies are hiring people to handle complaints in social networking sites. They are also extending their marketing strategies to these sites. Given the increasing penetration of the Internet, it is likely that social media will further be utilized, just as it is used to facilitate humanitarian work in the Philippines.

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