There have been several blogs recently on our site about Facebook, and how it affects the media and our lives. I was recently struck by two very different stories both involving the recent earthquake in Christchurch. The first is one that was featured in one of the more opinionated British newspapers: Amy Knowles, 16, wrote on Facebook that whilst visiting Christchurch when the earthquake struck, she stole some ice cream and got drunk. She went on to comment about how all the people who made remarks about where she lived no longer have power or water, and was generally disrespectful to those who lost their homes or lives.
Amy has since received death threats and her own mother has commented saying, “I'm ashamed to call you my daughter.” There are always stories in the media about the evils of Facebook users, be it groups that support serial killers or houses that get trashed because teenagers put their address on their status for a party when their parents leave town for the weekend, so I was happy to think back to a previous story involving what happened in Christchurch. A Facebook group called The StudentVolunteerArmy, mainly formed from members of the University of Canterbury Students Association, has organised themselves to aid those affected by the quake. With more than 1,500 people armed only with their own shovels and wheelbarrows, they have been helping those affected by liquefaction from the quake, especially elderly residents who have been unable to clear sludge from their properties. Using Facebook they have organised themselves into busloads of work teams helping the hardest hit suburbs. Unfortunately the paper, that was quick to tell everyone about the one girl who made crass comments and picked up some ice cream from the floor, didn't see fit to put to print the fantastic work these hundreds of unpaid volunteers did through organising themselves via Facebook. The paper's readers have commented on this on their website. Perhaps there was a story about illegal immigrants that was more pressing. Photo: Telegraph