Hurricane Irene Blows Away Twitter, Facebook

As people up and down the East Coast of the United States braced for Hurricane Irene, social networks are being used to get the word out about its path and how best to deal with it.

Federal agencies, disaster relief organizations and state governments have taken to Facebook and Twitter to warn people about the track of the storm. The organizations are also using social sites to announce evacuation plans and discuss how best to safely ride out the storm.

This should come as no surprise -- earlier this week the American Red Cross reported that people are increasingly turning to social networks for information about approaching storms and other natural disasters.

The Red Cross report also noted that people are increasingly using sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to make pleas for assistance during a crisis, as well as to alert loved ones that they're safe.

And as Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast, the Red Cross has created a Facebook photo album of people are preparing for Hurricane Irene.

And Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell used Facebook to warn residents to take "seriously the need to prepare for this significant storm and to ready their families, homes and communities for possible evacuation." Similarly, Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker posted on Facebook a video of a press conference he held to talk about the storm.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie turned to Twitter to alert his constituents that he was planning a news conference on hurricane preparedness.

And the New York Times is using Twitter to show a list on Twitter of hurricane-related information and resources. The list includes links to weather forecasts, lists of evacuation centers and bus service changes and delays.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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