Why Posting Your Hurricane Evacuation On Social Media Might Not Be A Good Idea
As the south of the United States prepares for Hurricane Matthew to hit, there are certainly various precautions to take when dealing with such a strong storm. And with social media, communicating with loved ones across the country is easier than ever. It might be tempting to post to social media to let everyone know you're OK and away from danger after an evacuation or a storm hits. However, posting to a public outlet like social media to reassure loved ones you're out of harm's way might not always be the best idea.
Since most social media is public — unless you have configured specific privacy settings — it allows others to see your posts as well, and as Jacksonville's CBS affiliate pointed out, can unintentionally let people know that your home is empty and unprotected. While Facebook provides helpful alerts to communities in danger to make sure people are accounted for, telling everyone in your social media circle that you're away from your home has the potential for those who want to take advantage of the situation to more easily do so. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, looters took advantage of the evacuated houses for their personal gain.
President Obama declared a state of emergency in Florida, and Gov. Rick Scott has ordered millions of residents to evacuate, and while those people should certainly heed the evacuation, it's still wise to exercise caution when it comes to what you post online.
Social media is a helpful tool when used correctly in these situations. Facebook's Safety Check feature is great for letting your friends and family know you're OK during a disaster, without telling strangers that your house is empty. The site allows you to tell family and friends "I'm safe" without giving away your exact location. The little reassurance is probably very welcome to loved ones, and allows you to quickly and efficiently communicate that.
It's not just social media sites that are stepping up in the face of natural disasters, though. AirBnB is reportedly providing emergency accommodations for evacuees. The company's Disaster Response service allows AirBnB hosts to open their doors to those in need of shelter during the evacuation. It was created after Hurricane Sandy hit New York and hosts used the app to provide accommodations for those affected by the storm.
Above all, residents in areas affected by the storm should take extreme caution, and do everything in their power to make it safely out of harm's way.