Social media played a crucial role in Chennai’s relief efforts during a natural disaster. This blog intends to convey to the general audience what needs to be done afterwards.

Chennai, home to K7 Computing, a metropolitan city in the southern part of India was ravaged by floods last week. Historic rainfall in huge measure broke a century-old record for the highest rain in this region, and the subsequent clogging up of Chennai’s water bodies contributed to the flood situation. Chennai’s infrastructure took a massive hit with transport (road, rail and air), electricity and communication systems (mobile, landline and internet) going down and stalling in the worst affected areas.

Social media played a crucial role in guiding Chennai through this crisis. Once help started pouring in from all corners, it was crucial to direct the help to where it was needed the most. People with relief material posted to social media, while people in the field guided them as to where the materials needed to go. Though internet connectivity was intermittent at best, social media was invaluable in coordinating the relief effort to the stranded and dispossessed.

Relatives who couldn’t contact their kith and kin residing in the affected areas also posted details to social media, so that volunteers or rescue people tending to that area could respond regarding the well-being of those people.

Thus social media was put to a good and effective use at the time of a crisis. But there is always the flip side to a coin; rumors flew across the social medium “warning” that the worst days aren’t over but are yet to come, which led to people fleeing to their hometowns and stocking up essential items to an extent greater than that which was required etc. There were even cases where volunteers with relief materials were misguided to some area only to find that the area had already been tended to, and they had followed a false or repetitively forwarded message. In such troubled times it is ill-advised to fuel such rumors, as the effects can be very serious indeed.

One week after the devastation Chennai is slowly getting back on its feet. People have started clearing out the debris left by the floods. During this time, apart from relief and help, a lot of personal information was also shared via social media. Hence it is advisable that people take some time to clear the personally identifiable information (PII) from their social media profiles, and the sooner the better to avoid forgetting to do it. Though this data would already have been cached somewhere by a search engine it is bound to “fade out” in time once the source is removed. PII revealed online is considered a goldmine for cyber criminals.

The image (adapted to suit the article) is courtesy of

Kaarthik RM
Threat Researcher, K7TCL

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