Hurricane Irene And The Social Mediasphere: How We Used Facebook and Twitter Throughout The Storm

Posted by erik devaney

Critics may call them time-wasters or new-age fads, but social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have proven themselves time and time again in one particular area: disaster relief. As an example, a single 50-character Tweet from Ann Curry helped a Doctors Without Borders plane gain military clearance to land in earthquake-ravaged Haiti in 2010. The plane carried much-needed medical supplies — and aid workers — to victims of the devastating quake.

Unlike cell phone networks, which can become clogged with callers and fail to function during emergencies, social media outlets continue to provide a means for communication even when thousands upon thousands of users are posting comments. At the height of Hurricane Irene’s escapade along the East Coast, Twitter hosted 3,000 Irene-related Tweets per minute.

So how did we use social media during the storm? Let’s take a look…


A quick search of Facebook will show that members of the social network were very busy creating Irene-related pages. One of the most “liked” is the Hurricane Irene “Interest” page, which has over 97,000 likes. The page displays what your Facebook friends are saying about the storm (and if you are friends with me, it will also display the Irene-related stories that I have been posting).

Also worth mentioning is the Hurricane Irene “Community Page”, which has over 16,000 likes. While the administrator posts regular storm-related updates on the page’s wall, the public is also able to post pictures, videos and comments. Without looking at this page, I would have never known that people — or, at least one person — as far away as Australia have Irene’s impact in mind.

Facebook was also an important tool for state governments during Hurricane Irene. Several state emergency agencies, including those from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts, have Facebook pages that provided damage and road closure reports throughout the storm.


As was the case with Facebook, Twitter served as an invaluable social media tool for state governments throughout Irene’s rampage. Of the six New England states, four have governor Twitter accounts, which allowed state governors to make regular emergency updates.

Gov. Deval Patrick, Massachusetts - @MassGovernor

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island - @LincolnChafee

Gov. Dan Malloy, Connecticut - @GovMalloyOffice

Gov. Peter Shumlin, Vermont - @VTGovernor

(I should mention that Gov. Paul LePage of Maine also has a Twitter account, @GovernorLePage, but the account has less than 500 followers and is not updated very regularly).


If you want to read what New Englanders were Tweeting before, during and after Hurricane Irene, check out the New England Post story, Tweets From The Storm.

Related posts:

  1. Social Media Storm: The Best Online Sources For Tracking Hurricane Irene
  2. Tweets From The Storm: What New England Twitter-users Have Been Saying About Hurricane Irene
  3. Hurricane History Repeating Itself In New England? A Look Back At Irene’s Most Ferocious Forbearers
  4. Mass. Readies for Irene; Hurricane Watch in Effect
  5. Irene Downgraded to Tropical Storm, Brings Supermarket Shuffle

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Posted by erik devaney on Aug 30 2011. Filed under Technology, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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