Social Media’s Role in Crisis and Misinformation

Drew Neisser Founder & CEO, Renegade

Posted on November 1st 2012

Social Media’s Role in Crisis and Misinformation

During devastating Hurricane Sandy, chaos enveloped the northeastern U.S. states. Through it all, people, government, and non-government agencies used social media to keep people informed. Twitter’s blog even featured a post on all the handles people could follow for up-to-date information. After the storm passed and power was restored, social media again played an important role is maintaining order and informing the public of the damages. In New York City, the transit system, which regularly has over 5 million commuters a day, was severely damaged, airports were underwater, and the lower half of Manhattan had no power. In New Jersey, Atlantic City was drowned and parts of it were literally washed away. MTA Kept Commuters Informed:

After Mayor Bloomberg’s declaration of transit restrictions, more details were released:

Most Importantly, during the recovery, locations for food and water were shared:

And, as conditions were still unsafe, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cancelled Halloween for the public’s safety:

Despite the best efforts of the people affected by the storm and the agencies to share factual and potentially life-saving information, there were a few users who attempted to take advantage of social media’s anonymity and immediacy in the time of crisis. As reported by Jack Steuf, @ComfortablySmug was discovered to be spreading misinformation about the situation in New York, such as untrue information about public services and the agencies that manage them. Also floating around on the web were dozens of fake photos of the storm’s effects. Although some people will try to take advantage of the public in times of crisis, for the most part the storm’s chaos and the recovery are being managed well.

Throughout the past week, social media was literally at the center of the storm, empowering those in real danger to share their stories and find help and other resources like shelter, power, food and water. That is the power of the social web! The hashtag #Sandy has united all tweets about the storms and the recovery from the crisis; you can continue to follow the hashtag to track new developments related to the storm.


Drew Neisser

Founder & CEO, Renegade

Drew Neisser is CEO & Founder of Renegade the NYC-based social media and marketing agency that helps inspired clients cut through the nonsense to deliver genuine business growth. A frequent speaker at industry events, Drew’s been a featured expert on ABC’s Nightline and CNBC. In addition to blogging for SocialMediaToday, you can find Drew’s articles on, MediaPost and TheDrewBlog.

In the last few years, Drew and Renegade charged up the prepaid card market launching MAGIC by Magic Johnson via events & social, unleashed the AXA Gorilla on Twitter with audio tweets and a virtual retirement party, created the Optimist Network for Optimum Business, guided Toasted Head to become one of the most popular wines on Facebook, introduced young adults to Harlem Liqueur and made a splash for Davidoff Cool Water on Facebook.

Also at Renegade, Drew hatched numerous award-winning campaigns for a long-list of blue chip clients.  His ideas for HSBC, Panasonic and IBM were all recognized by BRANDWEEK as Guerrilla Marketers of the Year.   Among these is the legendary HSBC BankCab program, a restored Checker, that has been delighting HSBC customers since 2003 with free rides (and now informative tweets).  

Drew’s creative accomplishments include naming and launching the Toughbook for Panasonic and penning numerous taglines.  These include “Like money. Only Magic.” for MAGIC by Magic Johnson prepaid MasterCard, “Where Family Comes First.” for Family Circle Magazine, “Fire things up,” for Toasted Head wine and “Great tech support. Good karma.” for iYogi.

Diapered at Wells Rich Greene, trained at JWT and retrained at Chiat/Day, Drew founded Renegade in 1996 as a place where the best ideas can sprout from any corner and collaboration trumps ego.  Drew earned a BA in history from Duke University and lives in Manhattan with his wife and the agency’s mascot, a French bulldog named Pinky.  A native Californian, Drew dreams of becoming a surfer but is a long way from hanging ten.

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