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Is social media the way to go in a crisis?

Facebook has proven a winner in regards to how Kiwis choose to communicate during a crisis.

Following the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that shook Christchurch on Sunday, millions of social media users turned to the Rebuild Christchurch Facebook, the organisation says.

The organisation says the Rebuild Christchurch Facebook page had reached 2.1 million users (1.2 million engaged), 55,000 unique visitors to the website within 24 hours of the 1.13pm earthquake. It also reached 180,000 Twitter users.

“The incredible reach of Rebuild Christchurch through times of disaster proves the effectiveness and power of online sharing through trusted independent community-based sources in times of disaster and crisis,” says Rebuild Christchurch director Deon Swiggs.

“It is comforting to see people use social media as a virtual community to support each other through answering questions and being forthcoming of information to share,” Swiggs says.

“The website and social media combination has proven once again a successful model to engage and get vital information out to communities,” he adds.

Community-based online resources like Rebuild Christchurch have also become a useful tool for traditional media and support agencies to utilise during a disaster or crisis.

New Zealand telcos Spark, 2degrees and Vodafone also took to social media to update their customers on network issues.