Twitter is proving itself more useful than founder Jack Dorsey ever could have anticipated.
After the earthquake in Japan, when local phone networks became overloaded, people turned to Twitter—and other social media sites—for their communication.
Twitter Japan used their page to send out helpful information to their followers in both English and Japanese, including several general hashtags for people to use (for those that are new to Twitter, hashtags allow people to easily search tweets for keywords that are proceeded by the # symbol). These tags for the Japanese earthquake included:
• #Jishin—general earthquake information
• #J_j_helpme—requests for rescue or other aid
• #Hinan—evacuation information
On March 12, the most common hashtag—general earthquake information—was mentioned almost 400,000 times in tweets.
In the revolution in Tunisia, Twitter was also responsible for sending out warnings to people, for organizing protests and for making calls for help. Below are some of the tweets sent out during the revolution.
Then there is also the original Twitter story of James Karl Buck, a graduate student who was covering the protests in Egypt and was arrested. His one-word tweet "arrested" was sent to his Twitter followers and within moments they were working on getting him out of jail.
These stories hint at the power social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have—in the right application.