Americans demand Twitter-watching police
But almost half assume they don't
Americans expect their emergency services to respond to postings on their web sites and Twittered messages, but more than half would give them a call just to make sure.
A study carried out by the American Red Cross (pdf), and picked up by Daily Wireless, found that in an emergency Americans are increasingly willing to use social networks to find out what's going on, and expect the emergency services to keep an eye out too, but while they're happy to get information from the internet they're less keen to share what they know of current events.
Just over half of the thousand or so Americans interviewed would bother mentioning, on their Facebook page or similar, a flooded road or failed power lines. Less than half would talk about a car crash, or a major traffic jam, which is surprising given the twaddle that normally fills such social channels - one might imagine that they'd be keen for something interesting to say.
That's not to say that emergency situations aren't written about. After the fact, when the scribblers can relay their own experiences and opinions, then the wires light up. Three quarters of those surveyed had written about emergencies on Facebook, while 22 per cent had blogged about them and almost the same number had Twittered.
During an emergency Americans turn to old faithful - the TV, with local radio as a second source. Only 16 per cent would expect Facebook to advise them on the state of the encroaching zombie horde.
When it comes to summoning help the situation is much the same - even if repeated calls to 911 had failed most Americans would just phone the local police/fire station/hospital. Only 18 per cent would turn to the internet, and almost the same number would walk to find assistance.
But that's not to say they don't expect those emergency services to keep an eye on their web sites and Twitter feeds. A whacking 69 per cent feel that the services should monitor postings on their own web pages, just in case, though almost half of those questioned assumed that no such monitoring was currently taking place.
Following an emergency only 28 per cent of those using social networks would "definitely" use the service to let people know they were OK, another 21 per cent "probably would", but 16 per cent "definitely would not", which comes as some surprise.
So next time you mates fail to update following an fire/flood/earthquake, don't assume they've burnt/drowned/fallen to the centre of the Earth, they might have just decided that some things are better said than posted on Facebook. ®
really? my stupid fellow Americans want Big Brother to be actively monitoring their drivelous rantings on websites just in case they need emergency assistance? God, we are becoming such a nation of pussies, always expecting somebody else to "take care of things" for us so we can continue vacuously pursuing the meaningless activities we call "life". What's the saying about trading a little liberty for safety? I guess most of them never heard of that, since Ben Franklin didn't have a Twatter account.
Please can all you twitter users make your emergency calls to the police and other services via your twitter posts.... please, please, please !!!
What I think *is* reasonable..
was one county (here in Iowa) that had it set up so people could text 911 for help, instead of dialing. Do I think everyone should necessarily have it? No, but at least I wouldn't think it's excessively stupid if they did -- there are situations where someone doesn't want to speak but could text (either the "bad guy" is still on-site, or they are injured so they can't speak but can text, or perhaps someone is deaf or mute -- there's a teletype relay service for the deaf & mute users now, but this way they could call for help directly instead of going through the relay service.)
As for FEMA, or police, or whoever, just randomly monitoring Facebook -- seems unreasonable to me. It's like going to google and clicking "I'm feeling lucky", and seeing if any emergency happened to come up -- completely unreasonable. Twitter was a very good source of information for the most up-to-date information for instance with the recent unrest in Iran, i.e. it might be good for up-to-date information about an already known natural disaster, but just trolling around randomly hoping to get the earliest info on a new disaster? Forget about it. If there were facebook pages or twitter feeds that were meant for news, I could see watching them, just as they may watch the old media news (newspaper, TV, etc.) But that's the extent of it.