Officials use social media to update about Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion

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Deepwater Horizon.Buring and Going down. 016Throughout the day people turned to social networking sites, like Facebook, to get the latest information on the oil rig explosion.

Around 2 am, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser started posting updates about the rig explosion. The first of many posts throughout the day said “Transocean Atlantic Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf had an explosion. We are on conference calls hourly checking on the crews. Please pray for… Them and their families as this rescue operation continues.” When people started hearing about the explosion, they started posting their well wishes and began asking for information about their loved ones.

At a time where no local TV stations were broadcasting, Nungesser was able to post a phone number family members could call to get news of injured rig workers and where they were taken. Mid-day, Nungesser posted that he received reports from several people who said the missing workers were found. He later found out that was wrong information and posted and apology for the misinformation — and so did the person who gave him the report.

All day, Facebook friends were able to find out information, post questions and show support. One woman in Mississippi was even getting information and used it to update her friends and family there. Nungesser has more than 1,500 hundred Facebook friends, getting updates within seconds. Social media, especially Facebook with more than 400 million users, is becoming the latest tool in crisis situations.