Social media in times of danger

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When dangerous situations occur, the first places that people like to check in order to find out what is happening is social media. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, in just a few minutes, you can find out crucial information such as what is happening at this very moment; what the news media is saying will happen in the upcoming moments; and whether or not the information provided truly affects you.

Do you need to evacuate? Are you being advised to stay put? Social media can deliver you all of this information and you don’t even need to leave your couch, much less your home.

Social media has quickly become the fastest way to share information. With just a click of a mouse or the scroll on a phone, you’re suddenly bombarded with information from your friends, family, even your co-workers.

On Facebook, you get updates about people’s lives, such as what movie they are going to see or how they feel about a certain situation; on Twitter, you receive snippets, at a much faster pace, usually about what that person is doing right at this very moment.

On Instagram, you view pictures of people’s lunches and of their outfits of the day. Usually, all of this information passes you by. But what happens if you see word of you, and maybe others, being in an extremely dangerous setting? Who can you call?

For many of us, we can call others using our cellular devices. Or even better, send out a mass text or something along those lines. However, thanks to social media, it could be easier to just make a Facebook status or to send out a Tweet, since most likely, your friends will scroll past it in  a matter of seconds.

In just five minutes, your Tweet could reach almost a million people. You could have just saved someone else’s life. Or maybe even just saved your own.

But for millions of Americans, it just isn’t that easy to find out that information. Due to the so-called lack of social media accessibility, many people can’t view that information, which hinders the amount of lives that could have possibly been saved. The good news, however, is that people are trying to stop that from occurring.

Volunteers have come together to create the Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Toolkit. The kit, which is featured online, will provide “tips, resources and apps to assist people with a disability to overcome the accessibility challenges of social media.” Dr. Scott Hollier, the author of Media Access Australia’s social media guide, helped with the project at hand.

After Hurricane Sandy pounded on the USA’s east coast and people turned to social media for more information and answers, people “witnessed from recent disasters that social media has the potential to save lives,” Dr. Hollier says, “but people with disabilities often have difficulty accessing important messages as the social media platforms are inaccessible. “

The Emergency 2.0 Wiki is working to change that. It aims to empower all people of the disability community with the knowledge to use social media and networks in emergencies and not just for fun. It works to make sure that you find out the most important information, as it is happening, not an hour later, a day later or never at all.

It allows the person to be in control, but most importantly, the Wiki puts the possible lives of others in yours as well. No longer will you have to wait for answers or try to piece together information by yourself. With the Emergency 2.0 Wiki, all of this information is truly just one click away.

Why hello there! My name is Katherine and I'm currently a freshman in college. I started working for Disability Rights Washington as a freshman, and I have enjoyed working for here so far. I write a column called What are We Talking About, which is great since it allows me to read new and interesting stories and to tell all of you guys about it. Anyway, have a great day! :D