On October 15, 2013, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Bohol, an island province in Central Philippines. It was a tragedy which saw the demise of various historical churches and famous landscapes. Nearby provinces also experienced the quake at varying magnitudes.
In the midst of this widespread tragedy, Filipinos did not just rely on TV to watch the horrors of the disaster. Most Filipino netizens have relied on social media to know what’s currently happening in Bohol. More have possibly learned about the earthquake on Facebook and (on a real-time scale) Twitter.
Tweetlevel is a social monitoring tool that can track mentions of a particular hashtag over a period of time. Using this tool, we were able to know that there is as much as 40,000 mentions of the hashtag #bohol last October 15. It is possible that due to time zone issues, the surge of tweets on the 14th may also be tweets on the 15th, in Philippine time.
Over the past few days, news agencies in the Philippines have also used Twitter to disseminate information about the disaster. As of this writing, the latest and most active tweets came from Twitter handles @ceburetweets, @sunstarcebu, and @cebugovph. Cebu, an island province nearby Bohol, was also struck by the earthquake on the 15th of October. This is possibly the reason why these handles are also tweeting heavily.
While tweets have somehow declined a few days after the quake, the numbers are still higher than the average daily mentions of the hashtag, which is around 200 – 300 per day prior to the disaster. It doesn’t mean that the tweets are not coming. Using hashtag.org‘s free 24-hour monitoring tool, the average number of tweets, based on its 1% sample is still peaking up to around 100. Again, take note of the time zone issues for the discrepancy in the time.
Since the tool is just using 1% of the sample, we should take note that data may be inaccurate. Even if it does present an estimate number of the tweets that are being made every hour, we can find that tweets about #bohol is still trending and are being used by Twitter users in the Philippines. This is based on the data I found using Twazzup, another Twitter analytics platform.
In a study by Universal McCann, the Philippines leads the world in most forms of social media activities such as photo-sharing. As such, government agencies, celebrities, and NGOs use Twitter and other social networks (primarily Facebook) to disseminate information to the public. Right now, the most popular link in Twitter in relation to the hashtag #bohol is a link to OplanBangonBohol, a Facebook page set up to organize help and relief efforts for the province. The page’s title can be roughly translated in English to Operation Bohol Restoration.
The earthquake in Bohol has already taken the life of 200 people as of this writing. In a related report, the numbers could have been higher had it happened in Metro Manila, where almost 12 million people reside in. The Philippines is in area in the world that is highly prone to earthquake and volcanic eruptions.
For the latest in Philippine news, you can follow any of the Twitter handles in this report.