As Hurricane Maria neared the Caribbean this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) used Twitter to disseminate shelter information. And when a powerful earthquake rocked Mexico on Tuesday, the State Department tweeted an emergency message about how to call the United States embassy. After the explosion last week at the Parsons Green subway station in London, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, posted a statement on Facebook, confirming that the “bucket bomb” was being treated as terrorism.
Sometimes organizations rely on social media to get out messages when their own websites are slow, as the National Hurricane Center’s was when it experienced overwhelming traffic during Hurricane Irma. Other times, ways to help organically bubble up on social media. In 2015, when Islamic State militants attacked Paris, people used the hashtag #PorteOuverte (“open door”) to offer each other safe shelter.
The key to using Twitter and Facebook in travel emergencies is choosing the right people, groups and companies to follow. Misinformation is common. So who to trust?
Below, a beginner’s guide to finding the most helpful accounts.