Sunday, July 7, 2013

Asiana 214: Crash Unfolds Across Social Media

I've written before about the importance of images when a crisis breaks. When Asiana Airlines 214 crash landed at San Francisco International Airport yesterday, it didn't take long for social media, especially Twitter, to kick into high gear. One of the things that was very clear watching the information cascade was how quickly images of the event went viral. The images taken closest to the source (the wreckage) went viral fastest. All of the images like the one below were taken by passengers who had survived the crash and evacuated the plane. This is reality today. We document our lives even when they may be in peril.


A couple of thoughts here. First, astonishment at the people evacuating the plane carrying their bags. I know people do irrational things during a crisis, but, wow, just leave the luggage. Second, mainstream journalists covering breaking news have to come up with a better way to have situational awareness of what the rest of the world is seeing and adjust accordingly. For example, NBC and CNN both were reporting witnesses who said the plane "cartwheeled" and that the "wing broke off." I'm not an aviation expert, but from the picture below, that simply can't be true. I understand not speculating. I don't understand not using basic observational skills.



All crises are human events and nothing connects humans like social media.  

Social media is also how people let their loved ones know they're ok after a disaster. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg posted that she was supposed to be on flight 214, but switched to United. She apologized if people were worried. The man who posted the photo below did so from the emergency room where he was awaiting a CT scan. 


And once he posted the photo, the media angled for an interview. 


By the way, Mr. Levy was released from the hospital Saturday and he did the interview with CNN. 

This is how a major crisis unfolds today: Overwhelmingly fast and intensely personal. We watch from our living rooms, computer screens or smart phones and feel as though we're sitting with the passengers, sitting on the field watching the plane burn. 

I wonder how many companies and organizations are truly ready for what they will face when the tsunami of information crashes ashore. 

Bill Salvin

11 comments:

  1. NBC and CNN both were reporting witnesses who said the plane "cartwheeled" and that the "wing broke off." I'm not an aviation expert, but from the picture below, that simply can't be true.

    That's what I would have thought too, yet the video does seem to show the plane perpendicular to the ground just before the fireball.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/07/us/plane-crash-main/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

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  2. Maria Segura Fernández (via LinkedIn)July 8, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Exactly, the immediacy of the new forms of communication make it extremely difficult to control the information that is offered after a particular event. Anyone can now report an event and it is necessary to pay more attention to the audience as the use of social networks keeps increasing.

    We can find some kind of parallelism, at another level, in the organization of events. To date, it was only necessary to provide the necessary space for the press corps, but in a short space of time the number of non-professional reporters has increased so much that it is also important to pay attention to them if we dont want that our planned project image is altered.

    The lack of control of these situations, as they are unforeseen events, prevents institutions, companies and / or agencies to be really prepared to face the tsunami of information.

    Perhaps, without restricting freedom of course, we should encouraged to be aware of the responsibility of sharing with the world this or that information.

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  3. Thank you for your comment, Maria. Encouraging responsibility is a very difficult matter, especially when people are posting to what they believe is their "personal" social network that is visible to the whole world. They posted for their friends. Are they responsible for how the rest of the world uses their material? Certainly it needs some thought.

    Lack of control is a constant in a crisis. Anyone who tells a company they can/should control information is a bit out of their depth today. Control isn't possible when half the world is tethered to the Internet 24/7/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Bill - thought you & your readers might find our review of how the airlines and airports in the Bay Area utilized social media - specifically Twitter - in this article
    http://socialjumpstart.com/2013/07/san-francisco-plane-crash-social-media-learnings/

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