Introduction: Accessing Social Media and the Internet During a Disaster

Information is Power
The Hurricane Sandy that just passed us by has shown the power of nature in the face of technology.  Once the power goes out and is out for a few days our dependence on technology becomes a glaring sore thumb.
Luckily my family was spared the full wraith of Sandy, however we did endure a few days without cable, high speed internet, and spotty cell service.  I know I know we were suffering…. I do know what kind of pain it can be living in Central Appalachia we were victims of a Derecho.  These powerful straight line winds leveled everything in their path and had my family without electricity, clean water, and tons of storm damage for 9 days. 
“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”  This statement could be no more true than in a state of emergency.  People gossip and try to find out what is going on, what happened, and most importantly how soon will it be fixed.
My wife is an internet addict.  She loves Facebook, Twitter, and News sites.  So you can imagine that 30 minutes into our 9 day ordeal she was losing her mind. So with no further ado to the point at hand, how to maintain your internet addiction while living through a disaster.
SMS or Short Message Service allows you to remain connected to cell services without all of the large graphics and features that usually hog bandwidth.  And let’s face it once the power goes bandwidth is at a premium.  Most emergency services suggest using SMS over voice calling because it frees up the circuits for emergency calls!  Keep your fellow victims in mind!
Most of these methods require a bit of preparation to set up so you have to do it before disaster strikes like with Hurricane Sandy we saw it march right up the east coast plenty of warning and time to get your act together. 
****REMEMBER*** SMS is texting your plan and usage rates will apply!
Facebook
Facebook allows you to access your account via SMS, Inside your Facebook account settings click Mobile and turn on Facebook Message forwarding and notifications.  This is configurable with lots of options, you can input what number you want texts sent to, what notifications you can receive,  you can set a maximum number of texts to receive a day.
After this is set up you can post status updates by text by texting FBOOK (32665).

Twitter
I will be honest I am not a fan of twitter, but in some areas twitter is all the rage so I will add it as well.
Twitter got its start from SMS so you can go crazy with it!
Twitter has a whole help section on SMS here https://support.twitter.com/groups/34-apps-sms-and-mobile?tw_p=twt#
In fact you can set up most of the Twitter stuff straight from your phone by texting.  If you don’t have a twitter account and just want to follow a service like the weather channel just text 40404 with the message “Follow TWCBreaking.”
If you have a Twitter account just text 40404 the word START, a authentication process will start to ensure you want to add the account to the number reply by texting YES.  Then a new text will come asking for your twitter account name enter it without the @ symbol and then the text after that will ask for your password (case sensitive) and that’s it you are done.
Searching the internet VIA SMS
Both Google and Bing have voice available searches available but I am going by the situation we lived through where you had to drive a while to get a signal decent enough to make a phone call.
Google
Google has got your back.  You can search the internet via SMS by texting what you are searching for to 466453 or GOOGLE on your phone!  That’s simple and awesome.
Don’t forget Google SMS applications.
BING
Has SMS services available but they are much more difficult to use, in fact if you search Bing for Bing SMS you second result is Google SMS applications so… no judgment here but that may be a suggestion.

Anyway good luck out there if you can’t find the information you are looking for then perhaps you can contact someone who can check it out for you and reply.  This instructable is about the power of text so I included no images just text and some information.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy and hope for a speedy recovery!

Comments

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amandaghassaei (author)2012-11-14

wow I did not realize you could do so much with sms! cool info here.

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