Facebook and Twitter tackle flood disasters.

If, like me, you sometimes wonder what exactly social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are actually good for, the catastrophic Queensland floods have allowed social networking to show its real mettle.

In the incredibly fast-moving disaster scenarios of the last month, evidence is emerging that social networking proved remarkably effective in distributing information which was changing by the minute.

Isolated residents of Theodore established a Facebook site which enabled outlying residents to advise their situation, share photos, and even call for volunteers. This page now supports a recovery site, Theodore Rebuilds. Residents are also following several flood update accounts on Twitter. Many other towns have followed Theodore's lead.

Health Care Social Media Australia and New Zealand is a Twitter discussion group on the issues of social media in healthcare. In a recent Tweet-Up by the group Queensland Police praised the effectiveness of Twitter in reaching those cut-off by floods.[See story and links at http://bitethedust.com.au/bitingthedust/2011/01/16/using-social-media-in-crisisdisaster-situations-opportunities-and-lessons/]

Most health services do not have direct access to social networking sites, but the potential to disseminate information and save lives in emergency situations, has rarely been demonstrated better than in the last month.

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