Social media sites are helping those affected by the quake and tsunami to connect with their loved ones and get information.
Google has launched its Person Finder for people affected by the Japan quake and tsunami. First launched after the January 2010 Haiti quake, the Person Finder allows individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by the disaster.
At midday it was tracking about 222,700 records, Google’s Crisis Response page said.
Google is also accepting photos of resident lists from people at shelters and evacuation centres who can’t register names on Person Finder.
“We encourage those who are at a shelter or evacuation center to take photos of lists of people who are currently there and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the shelter’s name in the subject line.
“Once sent, the photos will be automatically uploaded to a public Picasa Web Album (goo.gl/ganbare), so those who are unsure of their loved ones’ whereabouts can check.”
Facebook and Twitter are also helping people share information and connect with loved ones.
On Twitter’s Japan blog, the social media site is sharing tips and resources to help people around the world provide support, and share and follow important information.
The posts are in both Japanese and English. The blog gives information on the hashtags people are using to communicate about the earthquake, for example #Jishin is for general earthquake information and #J_j_helpme is a request for rescue or other aid.
Twitter also has a special section on its mobile website, twtr.jp, that gathers the latest earthquake information. It provides tweets about the earthquake, special search results links and suggested accounts to follow.
On the Global Disaster Relief on Facebook page there are stories of how people connected after the quake, along with resources and information on how to help.
Facebook has also plotted how status updates about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami spread across the world in the hours following the disaster.
While status updates on the site are more commonly a tool for those with too much time on their hands to share the minutiae of the day with all their friends, they have also been put to another use.
According to a spokesman, the social network is being used to share information about the crisis and as a tool for those caught up in it to get in touch with family and friends.
On the new animated “infographic”, black blobs moving across a world map show the prevalence of the words “Japan”, “earthquake” and “tsunami” in status updates between 10.37pm on Thursday to 12.45pm on Friday in US Pacific time.
Much of the activity is concentrated around the east and west coasts of the US, northern Europe and southeast Asia, suggesting that Facebook users in these parts of the globe had the greatest interest in the event.
“This shows, for the first time, the sparking of conversation on Facebook and people using Facebook to find out what's going on and to get in touch with family and friends,” the spokesman said.
The tool, designed to give an insight into how the social network is used, will be available on the site's home page.