The Girl Who Cried “Fire”

// Posted by on 01/28/2013 (10:27 PM)

This weekend, a terrible fire occurred in a Brazilian nightclub called “Kiss.” The club was filled far beyond its capacity, which lead to further chaos when the fire broke out. It spread faster and was difficult to contain. Over 230 people were killed and the scene described in related articles is disturbing and tragic. Could the fire have been saved by social media?

The Huffington Post published an article about a 20 year old in the club who posted a Facebook status within an hour of the disaster. The post read “Inc√©ndio na KISS socorro,” which translates to “Fire at KISS help.” The post received many comments, including one that said “the last check-in.” The girl who posted the status died in the fire, alongside hundreds of others. The fire appears to have been started as a result of pyrotechnics used in the band’s performance.

Another article in the Huffington Post about the incident says that the band that performed on this night feels threatened through social media sights.  People have been making claims that they will have to pay and the band fears retaliation.

In this instance, we see social media for good and for bad. Well, the victim’s post could have been better if her Facebook friends had perhaps reacted in a more urgent matter. Does this stem from that people make over-dramatic statuses? Then there is the flip side, that the band is now receiving threats through social media outlets. How will they keep themselves safe when (probably) all their activity is live-posted and geo-tagged thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare…

I find the situation simultaneously hopeful but discouraging. Social media is such a powerful tool, even has the power to save lives; in the physical and the metaphorical sense (think about FB campaigns that raise money). That being said, so often it is used for harm or for scheming. It’s so vast and basically impossible to control. If people could learn to harness the positive potential of social media outlets, the internet could become a less threatening space. What if you could tweet @911 (or the equivalent emergency hotline) and get a call or help immediately? Or text your location to a “HELP” line if you are in a situation and unable to make a phone call, i.e. a crowded club or the back of a kidnap van? The possibilities are there.

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Brazilian Nightclub Fire

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Allie Deering said...

I think that social media does have the power to make a positive impact in the face of a crisis. What came to mind when I read this piece was how social media could be used during a school shooting on a college campus. My University of Richmond network is quite large on Facebook and Twitter and I think that if I posted about a shooter on campus a large amount of people would know the details in a very short amount of time. If I could quickly inform people to stay away from a certain area then I keep those students out of harms way. This article really made me think about some of the positive ways social media could be used to protect its users.

// 03/03/2013 at 8:21 pm