Today is 9-11 – September 11th 2011 – ten years ago, America was the victim of a crime of massive proportions. Four airplanes were directed at The World Trade Center in New York City, and The White House, and The Pentagon in Washington DC.
Two of the four aircraft hit their targets: the North Tower and the South Tower of New York City. Of the other two, one smashed into the Pentagon, but the other, Flight 93, never made it to the White House, thanks in part to the efforts of Cal Alum Mark Bingham.
In fact, it’s Bingham’s call to his Mom that started my thought process about Social Media and 9-11. The call where he reportedly said “Mom, this is Mark Bingham. I just want to tell you that I love you. I am on a flight from Newark to San Francisco. There are three guys on board who have taken over the plane and they say they have a bomb. You believe me don’t you, Mom? I’m calling you from the air phone.”
That was in 2001, and before Social Media.
Now, we have smartphones, and more than that a “texting” culture. Even though passengers on airplanes are asked to turn off their phones, in the case of planes flying as they did, I really think someone – perhaps many – would have used their phones to make calls or send texts.
The number of communications would have been such that someone in law enforcement would have been notified, and that person would have reached the proper authorities. By the time the planes – perhaps the second one, if not the first one – reached within 50 miles of the World Trade Center, Air Force jets would have intercepted them.
We can go a step further than that, and say that if someone saw a group of guys wearing turbans and carrying on in a weird way, they would have sent out a tweet on Twitter. I’ve done that on BART trains in San Francisco whenever I saw a person acting in a way that was going to disrupt my commute. Which, by the way, isn’t a common happening.
Social media is what I call a “digital mirror” to our society. It allows us to see and report on what’s happening, issue opinions, and take action where necessary.
In the case of 9-11 Social Media would have saved us. Indeed, I’m sure there are many examples where it has saved us today.
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