Hurricanes in an Insta-World

by Julie Primrose

Hurricane Sandy will go down in history as one of the largest storms to ever hit the United States, but the so-called “frankenstorm” has been groundbreaking from a social media perspective as well.  People have been following the storm on all forms of social media, but the popularity of Instagram over the last few days is particularly interesting.

Just before the storm arrived, Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom said users of the social photo-sharing platform were posting 10 images per second with the hashtag #sandy.  It’s no surprise that people took to Instagram to post about and follow the storm.  Hurricanes and other natural phenomena are perfectly suited for Instagram given its immediacy and highly visual nature.

A new website also emerged in the days before Sandy arrived as people prepared for the superstorm.  The aptly named Instacane.com has been chronicling the storm by aggregating Instagram photos that are tagged with hurricane-related hashtags.  Now that Sandy has passed, the site is full of images of the aftermath from each person’s unique perspective.

While more traditional outlets provide a good overall view of the storm’s effects, social networks like Instagram and now Instacane take on the social perspective and provide the individual views of thousands of people.  Both have an important role to play in informing people about the storm, but it’s interesting to see how hurricane coverage has changed in an Instagram era.

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