PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - So you would logically think that if phone lines, especially mobile lines, are down then what good would social media be? Well in an event like Tuesday night's earthquake, they can be extremely helpful.
This is something we talk about a lot during power outages in snow storms. Let's start with the very basic option of texting. Texting was still an option. So if you have a non-smart phone -- you could still text someone's number to say "hey I'm okay". Services like Facebook and Twitter also allow you to text in a status update. You normally have this pre-set up, but if you don't have a smart phone you can text in what you want to a specific number and that will post to Twitter or Facebook as your status.
And there are obviously more options if you do have a smart phone?
Right. You can still text, but most smart phones have either a data plan or a WiFi connection. If you have a data plan, that works slightly differently then your calling plan. So while the phone lines might be jammed, the data is still very much available, though sometimes a little slower. You can log onto Facebook and Twitter and post a status or quickly check on a friend or family. This option is faster in most cases because people are doing this either through an app for their service or a mobile web page.
So getting a message out through Facebook and Twitter is much more immediate?
It absolutely is. Depending on how many of your friends and family you are connected with, they will see it right away. So with one message you've told everyone your okay, or in trouble -- and maybe what you need. So this is the reverse of what we normally tell people. Where is most cases you want to protect what information you share, in an emergency like this it helps to get the word out there quickly if you're in trouble or okay.
In many cases too if you connect with pages like MEMA or your local police's Facebook page -- it helps gauge where there is more activity.
Now obviously if it is a major emergency, then people should try to keep trying to call 9-1-1 and not rely on posting as their only option.
That said, it does always help to connect to your town's police or fire department Facebook and Twitter pages. We have a list of all the towns police and sheriff departments that are on Facebook, posted on our pages. We suggest going through the list and finding your town to connect with them.