How Social Media is Communications Around Public Health Crises

It has been striking how many earthquakes there have been lately.  Haiti, of course, comes to mind. But since Haiti, there have also been sizeable quakes in Turkey, Taipei, Japan and of course, Chile, and a minor one this week in Los Angeles.  

Interestingly, the way I heard about the one in Turkey and Taipei was not on the news, but through Facebook.  Today, news is spreading very quickly because of word of mouth.  Haiti was notable, not only for its size and devastation, but also by the nature of the way news about Haiti came to us.  Before cameras were on the ground, people were on Twitter to give us accounts and one YouTube to provide video.  The first real shots I saw of the Chile quake were taken by citizens and uploaded to the Internet via Twitter photos and I saw them on Mashable, not on a news program.  That says something stunning about the impact of communications during a time of a natural disaster in general, and in a developing public health crisis in particular.  

As mentioned in a posting in January, my office has begun a DC-based video series call "L Street" that features communications experts to provide perspectives on current events.  The first in the series I posted here in January 19 and involved health care reform and featured five of my colleagues.  The second in the series features three of my colleagues, digital specialists, a former reporter and then myself, discussing how the reporting of recent crises has been changed by the advent of digital and social media.  Here is is, and you can also see it on the Eye on FDA YouTube channel.

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