Blog 1 (Fall 2016) – Can social media help with development, by Sue Kang

Sue’s COM480 blog homepage

Social media = Aid?
Everyone has heard of Nepal and immediately associate it with Mount Everest. It’s a cultural icon – a phenomenon – used to symbolize so many things in our media. It’s been in countless movies, TV shows, and just on instagram there’s over 250k #Everest hashtags. So, with such exposure, did social media help when there was a natural disaster aka the earthquake in Nepal in 2015?
1. Global Awareness
A. Photos/Posts helped raise Global Awareness
B. Nepalese Government National Emergency started sharing official information via Twitter [1]

2. Finding Survivors and their Location
A. Facebook SafetyCheck [2]
B. Google People Finder [3]

3. Crowdfunding/Aid Recovery Effort
Raising funds is important for helping in the aftermath of a disaster and this is how Social Media helped raise funds:
A. Crowdfunding- GoFundMe, Crowdrise, and Indegogo. [4]
B. Photographers starting fundraising campaigns
(i) UNICEF UK  [5]

(ii) #NepalPhotoProject
This hashtag and the matching instragram account gained widespread exposure [6] (now it has 84k+ followers).

4. 4. Big Data
Big Data was analyzed to provide specific recommendations to optimize relief efforts. [7]

5. 5. WHAT ELSE?
It’s hard to see social media = aid as a black and white statement as for us it’s a form of everyday communication.
It doesn’t seem serious enough.
However, it’s undeniable that social media helped – at the very least, to get the word across the globe – in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal.
And on a bigger picture, social media can help developing countries – as a whole and on an individual level.
Social media not only connects deprived nations to the outside world, but provides the power to shape the Internet in a way that is relevant to their peoples’ lives, the power to organize help in scale, and the power to speak.
Broadly it can [8]:
· Bring access to information to anyone that sees it
· Provide real-time insight into the lives of people around the world
· Help to empower those at the bottom of the economic ladder
·Can coordinate protests: allow for the individual voice to be heard
· Can share atrocities and rights violations: one word – youtube [9].
As Amir Ali summarised in his paper “The Power of Social Media in Developing Nations: New Tools for Closing the Global Digital Divide and Beyond”:
“Social media is an incredible tool that should be embraced by anyone with an eye towards development.” [10]


  2. Admin. “Nepal Earthquake: How Social Media Has Been Used in the Aftermath.” SOCIAL MEDIA FOR DEVELOPMENT. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2016. <;.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Badri-Paul, Vasudha. “Solutions.” Outbound Social Media Marketing Platform NewzSocial. N.p., 08 May 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2016. <;.
  5. Siobhan Heanue. “Nepal Earthquake: How Open Data and Social Media Helped the Nepalese to Help Themselves.” ABC NEWS, 17 Aug. 2015. Web. <;.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Above n4.
  8. MIKE SHOAG Managing Director, Government Services. “Can Social Media Help Developing Countries? Absolutely!” Web log post. FORUM ONE. N.p., 25 July 2016. Web.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ali, Amir. “The Power of Social Media in Developing Nations: New Tools for Closing the Global Digital Divide and Beyond.” Harvard Human Rights Journal (2014): 185-219. 2011, 219.

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