First Tweets After the Christchurch Earthquake

earthquake tweetsAs I mentioned in my blog post yesterday about the Christchurch earthquake, I used Twitter as my sole source of information during the disaster.

I jumped on Twitter about 20 minutes after it happened, as did many people throughout Christchurch and the rest of New Zealand. But what amazed me was that some Christchurch tweeps managed to jump onto their Twitter account DURING the quake itself and tweet from under their tables and doorways.

The fact that people were putting their Twitter addiction above their personal safety is a bit alarming, but it’s also an incredible endorsement of Twitter and brings home the impact of social media as a whole on our psyche.

I think back to the last earthquake I witnessed first-hand, the 1989 Newcastle, Australia earthquake (which was only a Richter magnitude 5.6 by the way, making this week’s earthquake 15 times stronger!) and the only connection I had to other people affected by the quake was over the neighbor’s fence until the power came back on a few hours later and the TV reports started dribbling in. Phones were jammed, information was scarce and nobody seemed to really know what happened for hours and hours.

The ability for us to receive news and summon emergency resources instantly is one of Twitter’s best, albeit accidental, advantages. It goes beyond the boundaries of social media and becomes a vital communications tool. Even with all the clever applications that have been developed using the Twitter API, the impact of Twitter’s original functionality in emergency situations like the Christchurch earthquake cannot be underestimated.

I’ve been collecting the first 3 tweets from people after (and even during!) the quake. Emotions were running high, so the f-bomb features in some. If you’re a prude, you might want to look away now. I have linked to the actual tweets as well so you can see their time stamps.

First Tweets After Earthquake at 4.35am, Saturday 4 September 2010:

From: @kalena

  • QUAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (
  • Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck 7.2 earthquake 30 km from here. We are camping in car right now (
  • Quite a bit of damage to our house I fear. Glass breaking, lots of things falling as we ran out. What a horrible way to wake up #earthquake (

From: @polarbearfarm

From: @swiftynz

From: @kylierichardson

From: @zurtle

From: @lilGin

  • And the one day I don’t charge my phone we lose all power. Fuck you Murphy and your laws! #earthquake (
  • My living area/kitchen smells like a mixture of peaches, pickles, some sort of vinegar type substance. #earthquake (
  • Bet people are wishing they had thought about how to “get thru”. I am. We don’t even have batteries! #earthquake (

From: @serenity22

  • just got power back in Riccarton/Ilam #nzeq (
  • @MsPraxis  – all ok, no damage to the house apart from some hairline cracks in ceiling. bit of breakage, nothing major. shocks still coming (
  • had to go find the old fixed line phone to save the cell (

From: @crashhelmet

From: @benkepes

From: @kevinnz

From: @Aupajo

From: @kiwiscotsman

From: @bronmarshall

From: @Craig_Forster

From: @rachel_a

From: @mrsgooding

From: @kiwichrish

From: @NatashaUtting

From: @matt_dempsey

From: @Motmunter

From: @kcolbin

  • @rachel_a Thanks, girl! You ok after this morning’s adventures? (
  • Power back on now. Holy moley, that was scary :(  (
  • @rachel_a Dang, I should go to Fava! Good idea! We’ve got power back now, had been cooking up a storm in our campervan :-)  (

More will be added as they come in.

What were your first 3 tweets after the quake? If you want to contribute, please @reply me links to them at @kalena with #firstthreetweets as your hashtag or simply add links to them in the comments below.

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New Home for Google Realtime Search

Remember when Google promised us they were getting close to being able to provide search results in real-time? Well this week they’ve cracked it.

In an official blog post, Google announced real-time search results are now available. But instead of being integrated into regular search results pages, real-time search has been given it’s own home – a dedicated page for people to conduct searches in real-time.

You can also access Realtime Search by clicking the “Updates” link in the left-hand panel of normal search results. The results appear as a constantly refreshing stream. Your Google Alerts also work with Realtime Search so you can be sent updates for your target searches within minutes of them appearing in Realtime Search.

We’ve been able to see some real-time results in SERPs already, with social search results containing recent Twitter posts and Facebook status updates, however being able to isolate real-time search results from regular organic search results is extremely useful, especially if you are looking for information relating to an event in a specific location or a developing news story.

A couple of handy new features allow you to refine Realtime search results by pinpointing results by location or time and you can even see entire conversations to get context about any topic.

For example, the political situation in Australia is currently in turmoil as the country faces a hung parliament as a result of an election draw. Political developments are in flux and it’s difficult to keep up to date. If I conduct a search for “Australian election” using real-time search, I can see tweets from as recently as 1 minute ago and news stories posted within the last hour.

Realtime Search and updates in Google Alerts are available globally in 40 languages, and the geographic refinements and conversations views are available in English, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. To learn more, visit the Google Realtime Search info page.

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Q and A: How do I remove lies and false accusations about me on Google?

QuestionDear Kalena…

How do I remove lies, and false accusations about me on Google? Please help!


Dear Rudy

Google provide the following support articles that may help: Remove information from Google: Remove a page or site from Google’s search results and if the information is of a personal nature, you may also find this useful: Personal information in search results.

Google’s job as a search engine is to find, sort and categorize information. They can only index what they find, so my first suggestion would be to try and avoid doing things or annoying people which could inspire them to create false information in the first place. Sometimes this is easier said than done, in which case, you should really go after the source of the information and not Google. Try contacting the website owners who are publishing the false information and ask them to stop (either politely or by threatening legal action).

You could also try and make the lies and false information work in your favor. Respond intelligently and politely explaining how the information could have been misconstrued and then provide the readers with the correct info.

If this isn’t possible, then the next thing you can do is create favorable information about yourself on various third party websites. Setup social media profiles on all the major networks, offer to guest blog, distribute articles and press releases about you and your company etc. Then build links to promote these third party sites. If done well, this can outrank the negative information about you.

Hope this helps!


Peter Newsome
SiteMost SEO Services

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Twitter and Privacy: History Never Retweets

Ever had a case of the *tipsy tweets*?

You know what I’m talking about. The type of tweets you’d never post to Twitter sober but that seem highly amusing after a couple of alcoholic beverages. The ones you rush to delete on Monday morning in a coffee-induced panic when you remember what or who you tweeted. Yeah those.

Well, the next time your fingertip hovers over the send button after you’ve had a few, you might want to think twice about letting it make contact with the keyboard.

It turns out that the Library of Congress has decided to digitally archive EVERY public tweet that has been posted to Twitter since the site launched in 2006. With 50 million tweets processed by Twitter every day, that adds up to billions of messages.

The Announcement

The news came in mid April, first via the Library of Congress’s own Twitter account and then via public announcement during Twitter’s first Chirp conference for developers. This was followed up by blog posts from both the Library and Twitter.

Why Archive Tweets?

So why the interest in digitally archiving tweets and is it really necessary? Staff at the Library of Congress think so:

“Twitter is part of the historical record of communication, news reporting, and social trends – all of which complement the Library’s existing cultural heritage collections.  It is a direct record of important events such as the 2008 U.S. presidential election or the *Green Revolution* in Iran. It also serves as a news feed with minute-by-minute headlines from major news sources such as Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

At the same time, it is a platform for citizen journalism with many significant events being first reported by eyewitnesses,” said Matt Raymond, the Library of Congress’s Director of Communications.

“Individually tweets might seem insignificant, but viewed in the aggregate, they can be a resource for future generations to understand life in the 21st century.”

Don’t Panic

Now before you panic about your entire Twitter history being laid bare to a grubby public, you should know that there are some protections in place.

Twitter has insisted there be at least a six-month window between the original date of a tweet and its date of availability for internal library use, non-commercial research, public display and preservation by the Library of Congress. Private account information and deleted tweets will not be part of the archive. Neither will linked information such as pictures and URLs.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington also doesn’t see a problem with it:

“I think folks understand that whatever they post on Twitter is meant to be searchable”, says their senior counsel John Verdi.

“I don’t see a big issue here.”

That might change, he says, if the US government tried to identify individuals through their tweets or by cross checking user tweets with their information from other federal databases.

Personally, I can see this happening unless further protections are put in place. It’s probably happening every day.

Gift Wrapped

It’s important to note that the Library did not purchase the archive. It was gifted from Twitter and the original legal document outlining the donation [PDF link] is publicly available via PDF.

“Recently, the Library of Congress signaled to us that the public tweets we have all been creating over the years are important and worthy of preservation. Since Twitter began, billions of tweets have been created”, says Twitter co-founder Biz Stone in their official blog post about the donation:

“Today, fifty-five million tweets a day are sent to Twitter and that number is climbing sharply. A tiny percentage of accounts are protected but most of these tweets are created with the intent that they will be publicly available. Over the years, tweets have become part of significant global events around the world – from historic elections to devastating disasters.”

“It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public Tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research.”

About the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States and it is the largest library in the world, regularly researched by government staff, law enforcement agencies, law firms, authors, scholars, scientists, students and academics. The Library receives more than 1.75 million readers and visitors annually and employs a staff of more than 3,600. According to Twitter, it’s a logical home for their archive.

What Does it All Mean?

So with billions of tweets added to the federal archive, how can we expect the data to be used? With Twitter’s entire history archived, it shouldn’t be long before we see tweets being used as evidence in criminal trials and various lawsuits.

Tweets have already been cited in defamation cases such as the one between 25 year-old Chicago resident Amanda Bonnen and her landlord, Horizon Group Management LLC. Following a disagreement with Horizon Group about mold allegedly found in her apartment, Bonnen posted on her public Twitter account:

“Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s okay”, to which Horizon Group responded with a defamation case to the tune of USD 50,000.

Although a Google-cache of her now deactivated account shows she had just 17 followers, Horizon claimed Bonnen’s tweet severely damaged their good name because it was published “worldwide”. Ironically, the publicity the case received probably did more damage to Horizon’s public image than Bonnen’s limited tweet. The case was thrown out due to lack of specific context in the tweet, but it does set an interesting precedent for other potential cases.

Whatever the legal and privacy implications, knowing your tweets are being preserved for historical significance and stored in the same building as priceless documents like the Declaration of Independence, should be somewhat humbling.

Who knows, future generations may one day point to your “OMG you guys! @justinbieber just walked into @starbucks!” tweet with the same awe reserved for George Washington’s copy of the US Constitution.

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May Search Light Newsletter: the *blame Google it’s late* edition

Search LightThe second issue of the Search Light newsletter for 2010 was published today.

Yes, it’s  our second issue even though it’s nearly June. Shut up. The delay has nothing at all to do with my procrastination skills. It’s all Google’s fault and you’ll find out why when you read it.

This month’s newsletter includes an article about Social Search – the biggest thing to hit the SERPs this year since, well, Personalized Search a week before. It also contains some of the more interesting FAQs answered in this blog and a recap of the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Conference in Sydney.

If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber catch it here and then quickly go and subscribe before you change from a geek into a nerd.

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