Twitter and the earthquake: how solidarity travels along the social sphere

Twitter is increasingly becoming a powerful tool for communication, especially in time of crisis

In recent months we had already observed as the social sphere had become receptive to major natural disasters: from the last summer earthquake in Turin (we talked about it in the post Earthquake in Turin, the news runs on social networks) to the recent tsunami in Indonesia (Sumatra and the tsunami alert on Twitter).

Few days ago around 9 o’clock a strong earthquake has hit the whole north of Italy, making the situation even more complicated in Emilia Romagna region, already affected by a seismic event last week.

Regardless of the reaction rate (the news was first given by the people of the social network and not by the official channels of communication) that justifies a more “personal” approach of every user, we experienced a real solidarity race through Facebook and Twitter.

Especially Twitter, thanks to its retweet system, has spread like wildfire key information for the public interest and calls for collaboration in providing support to the rescuers. Let’s have a look:

TIM OFFICIAL @TIM_Official We join the request to remove the password to your WiFi network to make it available to others #earthquake

Daniele Ferrari @daniele_ferrari #earthquake We are looking for professionals: engineers, architects contact Municipal #Police: 0535/611039, 800/197197. Share tatranky @tatranky Open your WiFi networks, cellphones are not working, internet yes! #earthquake

This is a phenomenon already observed in Japan last year during the terrible earthquake that struck the country in March.

Being observers and researchers of social media, we can now see how these tools are finally reaching full maturity, as well as the users that populate them are increasingly aware of how – beyond the recreational side – there is a huge potential to communicate even in particularly critical situations.

Fabio Lazzari @Fabopolis MODENA: If you are in Modena and you need a wifi network to communicate: Net Garage at Barchetta 77 street. #earthquake FSNews @fsnews_it Civil protection #Modena: 059200200 #earthquake Stella, ma non sto @StellaStrala If you have any relatives in Vignola (MO) telephones are not working, but there were no apparent damages. Stella, ma non sto @StellaStrala Cavezzo collapsed three quarters of the town, need rescue teams #earthquake

It’s a quantum leap that we can not underestimate, considering that still too much people see tools as Twitter just as meeting spaces without any utilities.


Sure, a few more questionable episodes can happen, but it’s nice to see that the users themselves reject certain behaviors by calling the unwise brands to order.

Groupalia Italia @GroupaliaIT Scared of the #earthquake? let it go and let's run to #SantoDomingo! Carlo Pasqualicchio @Carlo_cp @GroupaliaIT Are you serious?! I can't believe what I'm reading! There's nothing to joke about! #delusione Pino Cenicolla @be_p @GroupaliaIT shame on you. Simone Cinelli @SimoneCinelli @GroupaliaIT I don't think it's the case to use these hashtags, especially at this time dert @dert86 @GroupaliaIT you could keep for you this unhappy joke