Why not rely on social media for warnings?

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By Scott Roberts

(Original Post 2016-04-26, updated 2019-12-22)
Please be sure to click these images if needed…the contents are important!

Problem 1: timeliness


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My briefing on today’s storms written 22 hours ago just showed up in Cynthia’s feed.

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Solution 1: have multiple ways to get information. Consider weather radio your primary, local radio/TV secondary, a smartphone app third, maybe Twitter next, and Facebook somewhere on down the list.

Solution 1a: when you see a post from someone you’re interested to see more from, click through and read the article. I read just a couple of hours ago how Facebook is using click-throughs and time spent reading the articles as stronger signals than likes and shares when it builds your news feed.

Problem 2: Facebook, not you, decides what you see. If I don’t pay for advertising, the average number of people who see a post runs on the order of 300-400. I can push it up to a couple thousand by buying sponsored stories, and I frequently do for my lead-up posts to an event.

Your local emergency manager doesn’t have the budget to spend this way. Your local media outlet usually doesn’t choose to spend marketing dollars this way…Facebook is a competitor as well as a source of new viewers/listeners.

Solution 2 (at least for my information): subscribe by email. Check out the bottom of the page for help with that.

Solution 2a: share the Facebook item if it is still timely. This helps spread it to your friends.

Problem 3: it’s much harder (sometimes impossible) to know at a glance the credibility of information on social media. Even though NWS and news outlets have procedures to help guard against it, people will post photos they claim to be of events that are happening “now” and they are actually from old events or altered in some way. It happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Solution 3: see solution 1. Trust NWS, official sources, and your local media. I try to share things in a timely manner, but I will always make reporting to NWS a priority when they need the information to put out the official warning.

Be safe today!

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