(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Social media network helps prevent disaster

Manila - Police evacuate an elderly couple from a flooded section of suburban Pasig city east of Manila on 28 September 2009
Jason Gutierrez/IRIN

Aid officials in the Philippines have credited social media sites like Facebook and Twitter with keeping the number of deaths caused by Typhoon Megi to only 10 so far. Thousands of people were persuaded to move to safer places or take precautionary measures before Megi struck on 18 October, officials say.



"The value of the alerts to us was that we managed to send out the message early," Alexander Rosete, a spokesman for the Philippines National Red Cross, told IRIN. “Now that we are using the Internet, the services are free of charge, and we send messages at no cost to us. It’s also more reliable and faster because nearly everyone’s on social networking sites.”



The Philippines is no stranger to social networking. The country ranks eighth in the world in terms of the number of Facebook users - with 16.8 million registered users, according to CheckFacebook.com, an independent website that tracks social media trends.



Numerous SMS alerts also ensured the public knew exactly when and where Megi was expected to make landfall. The Philippines has been described as the text messaging capital of the world, with an estimated one billion text messages sent daily.



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