Earthquake has East Coast a-Twitter

When our office started quaking this afternoon at Queens University of Charlotte, one of my colleagues thought his vertigo might be flaring up. The bushes shaking outside my window disconfirmed that theory.

We turned to Twitter. Eight minutes after the event, we learned that the magnitude 5.8 earthquake shook Virginia 87 miles outside of Washington D.C. But before the news stations had time to report, accounts were coming in from my friends in DC, Boston, New Jersey and New York confirming that the earthquake shook the east coast.

One tweet really caught my eye:

Kathleen Fitzpatrick heard about the earthquake on Twitter before feeling it in New York City. Some advocates of Twitter have long posited that Twitter and other social media can be used for information and disaster response. For example, at XKCD (a webcomic self-described as a combination of “romance, sarcasm, math, and language”) this comic appeared a while back:

embedded from XKCD at: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/seismic_waves.png

Based on today’s events, Twitter and other social media might have a distinct role to play in safety, security, and society – apart from being truly “social.”

For now, say a prayer for all those impacted by the earthquake and their families and tweet your support.

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