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ONGOING COVERAGE: Tsunami 2.0: A Natural Disaster And The Virtual Response

In the wake of a now infamous earthquake and tsunami, can social media be used for social good?

I have been following , its aftershocks and the following for the U.S. West Coast on internet-based news media.

The story as it unfolds on the Internet has been told on numerous social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. 

, we learned that the Associated Press had updated news of the death toll in Japan via Twitter, a web-based application called Google Person Finder was being used to help quake victims find tens of thousands of missing persons, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was using both Facebook and YouTube to issue updates on the threat of nuclear exposure to Japan's population from disaster-affected nuclear plants.

As things tend to change at a nearly split second rate on internet-based social outlets, the latest trend in development is social campaigns for Japan's benefit.

Or the backlash thereof.

Can social media be used for "social good"?

In Japan's case, it seems that social media could be used for "social good" - what some may call "charity."

I reported that following the Japan earthquake and tsunami the most popular trending topics on the micro-blog site, Twitter, were related to the event. #Prayforjapan was one of them.

Today's most popular Twitter topics, meaning the most talked about (or "tweeted") phrases on the site are still following that trend.

American Red Cross using social media to #HelpJapan

The American Red Cross promoted a hashtag to the site: #HelpJapan.

This promoted tweet was paid-for as advertisers routinely do to reach the audience of Twitter, a company which claims one billion "tweets" on the site each week. 

Through the #HelpJapan campaign, the American Red Cross has encouraged donations to the organization which would in turn be used to provide disaster relief to Japan.

As an effective campaign would do, the organization is going beyond the social sphere and has most recently sent Red Cross Advisors to Tokyo.

50 Cent's not quite #PrayforJapan Tweet 

Often times when tragic events occur, news media tend to circulate stories about the philanthropic efforts of celebrities.

Rapper turned actor, 50 Cent, is an exception to that rule.

The celeb received a firm scolding, albeit via the Internet, about an inappropriate tweet which seemed to trivialize the natural disaster in Japan.

In the rapper's defense, he did tweet shortly after "Let's pray for everyone who has lost someone."

This backlash isn't entirely unlike that Microsoft received for seemingly trying to capitalize on the misfortune of those affected in Japan (more on that incident in Part One of)

Facebook games build a virtual city and re-build an actual one

Social gaming company, Zynga, announced in a company blog post that they will use popular Facebook games Farmville and Cityville to raise money for Save The Children's Japan relief efforts.

According to a report from AFP, the company raised $1 million dollars in 36 hours.

Zynga asked social gamers to donate money through the purchase of virtual goods in its games, including kobe cows in FrontierVille.

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