Social Media is the New First Responder


Social media is changing the delivery of humanitarian aid. The  2015 Social Good Summit spearheaded a session about this subject, led skillfully by reporter Lara Logan. The panel consisted of Naomi Gleit from Facebook, Dr. Pranav Shetty, Health Coordinator, International Medical Corps and Matt Petronzio, Social Good Editor at Mashable. They stressed that when social media is used to reach people, it makes people aware and sheds light on situations they might not otherwise understand or take as serious.

With the surge of social media over the past few years, it’s now easier to get information to people in mass quantities. The conversation focused on how important it is to use these streams for social good, particularly in times of crisis. From the earthquake in Nepal to the current refuge crisis, it is possible to galvanize masses to really do something. It has never been so easy to help people.

Part of the reason of the uptick in social good is that the generation of millennial really cares. They have the tools. Social media is a huge factor in terms of what is happening all over the world, with the rise of usage in platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook has 1.5 billion users all over the world in its community and Gleitt says that the company feels a responsibility to help people, so they started a team dedicated to social good. The company has worked to push out Amber Alerts to find missing children. They’ve built a feature called Safety Check to notify friends and family that you’re safe during a disaster and a Donate Now button to raise money for charities like ALS during the viral Ice Bucket Challenge and after the Nepal earthquake. The latter recently raised $10 million from 700,000 users for Nepal relief. About Facebook’s efforts, Gleitt said, “We feel like are doing a lot of good.” And they are.

Shetty, who works with the Medical Corps, said that his organization’s partnership with Facebook has allowed them to help more people exponentially. “After the Nepal earthquake, we were able to get there faster,” he said. Having that speed translates to a huge impact, which has the greater effect.

The refugee crisis is a good example of a situation that is going viral through the use of social media. Petronzio said that the devastating photo of the Syrian boy’s body on the body galvanized everyone. Mashable covered it, and so did everyone else. But even more than that, readers stepped up and asked what they could do. So Mashable built a “How to Help” series. This single post got more than 65,000 shares, an indication that people were truly interested in the topic.

The panelists agreed that there needs to be more of a framework, an infrastructure to make more of this happen and that ensuring broadband internet in Africa and other developing countries will change the world. It will allow for easier, quicker delivery of service. It will impact families and communities.

Disclosure: I was working at the Social Good Summit and was also there as media. As always, any opinions are my own.









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