Social Media – Positives and Negatives

I think by this point, everyone knows the value of things like Twitter and Facebook when it comes to getting information.  It’s invaluable, but just in the ways that it can be positive and help it can be negative and detrimental to situations.   Through this whole experience I’ve gained a lot of friends on facebook.  People I didn’t know I added so that they could see my updates and articles I was finding and vetting to the best of my ability.  I did what I could in the basement, sitting on the couch, in Canada.  Well, now, I’m seeing more and more of things like this being posted by people who live in Fukushima or who have left.  I assume in an attempt to help out and spread information.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/16/world/asia/japan-nuclear-evaculation-zone.html

This link was just posted to facebook.  I assume this person has friends that are in Fukushima and they will see this article.  I’ve reproduced it below and I’m going to bold the things you should pay attention to.  Keep in mind that today is March 29th

UPDATED March 25, 2011
The Evacuation Zones Around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant
Estimates of Possible Exposure Define U.S. Evacuation Zone

The American Embassy recommended on March 17 that Americans within 50 miles of the Fukushima reactors evacuate. The recommendation was based on an analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that predicts possible radiation levels assuming conditions at the plant degrade. It is not based on current radiological conditions. It includes factors like whether containment vessels remain intact and weather patterns, among others. Here are the results of the analysis on March 16.

By AMANDA COX, MATTHEW ERICSON and ARCHIE TSE | 

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Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Environmental Protection Agency; Robert Meck, health physicist, Science and Technology Systems; LandScan 2009 population dataset/UT-Battelle (population estimates)

First of all, that’s a lot of assuming, predicting, and possibilities.  Then add in the fact that this information is from March 16th and today is March 29th and you really start to think…wow, what is this?

Now, on March the 17th, I posted quite a bit as a lot was going on.  And I remember reading about the NRC and all the crazy things they were saying.  What I found strange about that day was that the BBC had added a little section to all the NRC’s craziness.  I wrote this in my 03/17 6:57am Update

Daily reasons to not believe the hype:
NRC are coming out saying a lot of things. Based on “very limited” information. Make sure you’re reading whole articles!

On my facebook page, because at that point I wasn’t blogging everything, I posted this directly from the BBC Live Blog emphasizing the end, which was left out in the Reuters and most other American news reports, it’s in bold

March 17, 5:33am

BBC live blog: More from NRC chair Gregory Jaczko. He told Congress: “We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.” Mr Jackzo said the high radiation levels would make it very difficult for workers to get near the reactor. “The doses they could experience would potentially be lethal doses in a very short period of time,” he said, but added that the NRC’s information on the situation was “very limited”.

I followed that up with a comment.

BBC is the only news agency to add in the “very limited” portion of the above statements.

I realize that because this article has a pretty graphic, people go to that first, then look at what that graphic means, then maybe read things.  While the top of the article does say, updated March 25th, the article is still referencing the 16th as the time that the analysis was done.  I could also go and find exact numbers on radiation since then if I really needed to.  But it’s 5am and I work at 10am.

My point is that even though things have calmed down and people have removed themselves from the situation or at least have time to sit back now and actually read a couple articles that doesn’t mean you should post everything you see that has an easy to understand graphic.  Everyone worked together to police the news in the worst of situations, let’s not get complacent now and potentially provide incorrect information to people.

B

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