A Modern Day War of the Worlds on TwitterOctober 14th, 2009 by Mike
Tomorrow one of the largest earthquake drills in California history will take place. An estimated 6.6 million people statewide will participate, with roughly 675,000 of them hailing from Orange County. While the bulk of the participants will simply be doing a typical drop, cover, hold drill, the Orange County Register reported that many O.C. organizations will be doing more. But if that weren’t enough OCReggie, the Orange County Register’s twitter account, asked its followers what they thought about posting simulated tweets during the drill.
Two things came to mind the second I heard the idea. First what a brilliant new use of Twitter, second “oh my god it’ll be the War of the Worlds radio broadcast all over again”. Now I get that most people following the Orange County Register probably live in Orange County, and probably would most likely know whether or not they had a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. However, if they work out of town, or they follow the Register, but don’t live in Orange County they may not be as keen to what is actually going on.
At the time of this writing I had not gotten word back from OCReggie in regards to their plans for the event tomorrow, but will update you as soon as I know. What are your thoughts on a simulated disaster on Twitter? Is it a social media disaster waiting to happen, or is it an innovative new way to prepare us for a disaster? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this since it’s something I have never seen done before or even considered.
UPDATE: Orange County Register staff member Jit Fong Chin got back to me this morning and advised that they would have several reporters covering todays events, but nothing about the actual simulation tweets. The drill started 21 minutes ago and no simulation tweets have gone out from OCReggie, instead retweets from various OC residents participating in the drill have gone out.
I want to give props to the Orange County Register again for being a newspaper that seems to actually get how to use Twitter effectively. They are quick to respond and engage their followers and even retweet on ocassion. Hats off to the OCReggie twitter staff, let’s hope more newspapers can learn from your example.