Hurricane Sandy swept across the Northeast last week and demonstrated both the positive and negative effects of social media during times of tragedy. Though becoming a valuable outlet for family and friends to stay in touch due to limited cell phone service and lack of electricity, social media also showed its “dark side” during this powerful storm.
Hurricane Sandy Shows Dark Side of Social Media explores the negative side of social media during Sandy. False information spread like wildfire over social media outlets. A twitter post that the New York Stock Exchange was flooded with water caused controversy after CNN incorrectly reported it. CNN made an on-air correction and responded that the information came from New York City media outlets that they believed were credible.
As well “newsjacking” occurred when companies tried to use the storm to their benefit. According to the article, “American Apparel sent out an e-mail blast for a 20% off sale for people living in the affected states, with a tagline that read, ‘In case you’re bored during the storm.’”
Fake Hurricane Sandy Photos circulated over Twitter and Facebook feeds that were photoshopped or taken from another day. Photos included soldiers standing in hurricane conditions at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, clouds over Manhattan and a flooded McDonalds. In reality, these images were incorrect depictions of the hurricane. Social media users shared these powerful and intriguing images without checking the sources.
I believe that the social media mishaps that occurred during Hurricane Sandy have taught us the need to check information and sources especially in times in tragedy. As well, “newsjacking” or companies using these tragic events to their benefit does not reflect well on their image. Instead, social media outlets should have been used to spread useful information and support for those affected by the storm.