Facebook as a News Source?

This past Thursday, March 29, the Rio Grande Valley faced one of the severest storms it has seen in years. Six inches of rain flooded the streets, and hail the size of golf balls and baseballs damaged cars and buildings alike.

The storm died out eventually, but the aftermath left clear traces of the storm’s presence the previous night.

The hail damage to the KFC building in McAllen.
The hail storm left the roads icy and slick.
Some of the hail that fell during the storm.

Being from the Valley, this especially worried me. I called my parents the night of the storm and learned that thankfully, their side of the Valley did not take the hit as much as other parts. However, my parents did say that their satellite wasn’t working, so they couldn’t watch the news to check for weather updates. The only means of communication they had, besides the phone, was the Internet. My dad was uploading some photos to Facebook while I was on the phone with him that night. Facebook was still up, running, and very active throughout the storm.

Many cable and satellite networks went out that night, so how did Valley residents stay updated on the storm? The local KRGV Weather channel staff kept up with the storm and updated the KRGV Weather Facebook page to keep Valley residents informed. Through the Facebook page, residents were able to learn about which areas would be affected the most, how severe the storm was in various parts of the Valley, and what measures Valley residents could take to keep their families and their homes safe. Additionally, through the KRGV Weather Facebook page, residents later learned that most school districts across the Valley cancelled classes the following day due to the inclement weather.

The KRGV Weather Facebook page did an outstanding job of keeping the Valley residents updated on the storm and helping to ease a lot of fear. Facebook was one of the few modes of communication still effective during the storm, and the local weather channel took advantage and used Facebook to pass on news about the storm. KRGV’s use of their Facebook page shows that social networking can be used in a way that helps others, much like using Twitter helped release Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan. Using Facebook as a means to deliver news directly to citizens is just another way that social networking is quickly becoming an integral part of our lives. During a storm, cable and satellite can be glitchy, but social-networking sites such as Facebook are a dependable, effective way to connect to users across various locations and connect news and weather centers to residents.

What I especially liked about KRGV Weather’s use of their Facebook page was the fact that I could stay updated on the Valley storm as well. Since I am away in college and am not living in the Valley, I don’t have access to the Valley’s local news and weather channel. I do, however, have access to their Facebook page, regardless of where I am, so I was able to stay informed about the storm by continuously checking for updates on the KRGV Weather Facebook page. Through checking the Facebook page, I learned that the area where my parents were was not being affected as much. KRVG Weather’s use of social networking helped relieve a lot of my worries and reassured me that the people I cared about back home were safe. The many uses of social networking are quickly becoming apparent, and sites like Facebook are becoming important and useful to businesses, news and weather channels, and of course, people like you and me.

“We’re all publishers now, and the more we publish, the more valuable connections we’ll make.” -Pete Cashmore, Founder of Mashable

(Photos courtesy of the KRGV Weather Facebook page.)

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