Tas bushfires prompt social media warning

Tas bushfires prompt social media warning

15 October 2013

published by http://news.ninemsn.com.au

Australia — Its stunning success ensured a special mention for social media in the independent report into the Tasmanian bushfires of last January.

The report makes three recommendations relating to the likes of Facebook and Twitter with their influence growing as communication platforms during an emergency.

They include the government making a plan for how it will manage social media in another emergency.

Tassie Fires – We Can Help earned founder Mel Irons praise from Premier Lara Giddings and a place among the state’s Australian of the Year finalists.

Her work in garnering donations and volunteers is also praised in former South Australian police commissioner Malcolm Hyde’s report, but risks are also identified.

They include the spread of unreliable information, rumours and risk-taking by people wanting to help.

The report uses a suggestion that gun owners travel to burnt-out areas to put down distressed animals as an example.

“In an emergency … the government should be the primary source of reliable and authoritative information,” the report says.

Ms Irons has argued information already on social media can be better controlled by sites like hers, and traditional media does not reach everyone.

Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine said the success of the site had not surprised the force, whose Facebook site has only recently gone online.

“It is a media that we do need to embrace and use because it is a part of everyday society,” he said.

“We’ve started the journey and we’ll certainly be better prepared to use that social media to our advantage and to the advantage of the community.”

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