Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to Use Facebook and Twitter Without the Internet


As Hurricane Sandy makes its way up the Eastern Seaboard, many are without electricity. Without power you could lose your access to Internet via Wi-Fi and, potentially, access to mobile networks. If that happens, how can you still post on Facebook and Twitter to let your friends and family know that everything is fine? Or ask for help?

You can use good-old text messages.

To tweet, first you need to enable your mobile phone on Twitter.com, so do it now while you can. Go to your Twitter homepage, then to “Settings” and then “Mobile.” Insert your cellphone number under “Activate Twitter text messaging,” and then you’ll have to text “GO” to the number 40404.

Once you’ve done that, you should receive a text message telling you that your phone is now activated. You should also see new settings on the webpage that allow you to enable or disable text notifications.

Now, to tweet, just write a text and send it to 40404.

To find out more about how to use other Twitter functionalities without an Internet connection, check Twitter’s official guide.

SEE ALSO: Google Launches Crisis Map for Hurricane Sandy:


If you’re more of a Facebook fan, worry not. You can update your status via SMS as well and the social network also gives you the ability to subscribe to your friends’ updates and even use Facebook chat. Again, to access these functionalities, you first need to link your mobile phone to your Facebook account.

Log into Facebook.com and go to your “Account Settings,” which you can find under the arrow next to your name on the top bar. Then go to “Mobile,” introduce your number and click on “Activate Text Messaging.” You’ll have to select your country and your carrier. Once you’ve done that, follow the instructions on the screen and text the letter “F” to the number 32665.

Finally, you will receive a confirmation number on your phone. Insert that number on the page. You should then receive a text message that will confirm that your phone is activated.

Now, to update your status, you simply have to write it in a text and send it to 32665
Twitter Is a Dangerous Lie Generator, Not a Truth Machine


There’s a funny juxtaposition in the right-hand column of Buzzfeed today: One highlighted piece, by staff tech writer John Herrman, is titled, “Twitter Is a Truth Machine,” and it delves into the idea that Twitter, despite its flaws, is a beacon for virtuous honesty in time of need. Right next to that article, ironically, is one by BuzzFeed contributor Jack Stuef. In that one, Stuef uncovers Shashank Tripathi, a New York-based GOP campaign consultant who deliberately spread misinformation about Hurricane Sandy via his Twitter account last night. It makes sense for Stuef’s piece to be on top in the image, because if Twitter is anything, it’s a hive of lies.

In all fairness, Twitter has indeed become a place for private citizens, journalists, corporations, and civic entities to come together and exchange information on the fly. In some cases, that can be wildly beneficial, like when Barack Obama uses his official Twitter account to offer short missives to the nation. Or, as Herrman notes in his piece, like when Con Edison’s Twitter account was used last night to dispel the rumor that several ConEd employees were trapped in a badly damaged power plant.

But what Herrman fails to properly address is the fact that, if it weren’t for Twitter, via which several different news outlets wrongly claimed ConEd workers were trapped in a plant, ConEd might not have had to address the imperiled-workers lie in the first place.

Then there was the rumor, started at around 11:45 last evening, that the Coney Island Hospital was on fire and firefighters had no way of getting there, leaving the structure to burn. Naturally, the thought of sick people roasting to death in the middle of a hurricane was enough to get panicking Twitter fiends to put out a call far and wide for help. There was just one problem: Once again, that rumor was total bullshit. There was no fire in the Coney Island Hospital—it was a car burning nearby. Of course, that didn’t stop thousands and thousands of people and news organizations, apparently tipped off by a police scanner Twitter feed, from tweeting that the Coney Island Hospital was on fire with no chance of rescue.

It’s not always great to trade in “what ifs,” but here, as we continue trying to piece together just what the hell happened last night, it seems appropriate: What if you’d been a New York resident whose mother was in the Coney Island Hospital during Hurricane Sandy? What if you’d read on Twitter, with no way to call and verify the information, that the hospital was burning down? Might you have, against your better judgment, raced into the night and faced the downed power lines and crumbling trees and buildings to try and rescue your mother from smoke inhalation? I think I might have done that, and I think a lot of other people would have, too. When you finally arrived to the hospital—if you had the good fortune of arriving there without dying—and it wasn’t burning, do you think you’d ever call Twitter, whose rotten lies led you to risk your life over bullshit, a “truth machine”? Doubtful. You’d probably wish for Hurricane Sandy to gain momentum and topple Twitter’s San Francisco offices (with no employees inside, obviously), and nobody would blame you.

To be sure, I think Twitter is a very useful tool for disseminating jokes and, less frequently, important information. I also agree with Herrman to a degree when he calls the microblogging site “a fact-processing machine on a grand scale, propagating then destroying rumors at a neck-snapping pace.” But let’s not kid ourselves and claim that Twitter is a safe haven for truth in an otherwise mendacious and reckless hellscape. Twitter is a place, just like the real world, where overeager and wildly faulty rubberneckers spread unchecked nonsense at lightning-quick speeds. The truth eventually yielded there in desperate situations, while welcomed, is also very often only a dab of salve to soothe the burns from countless lies.

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