If you were trapped or lost in a storm drain, but still had cell phone reception, how would you reach out for help? Perhaps call 911, or its equivalent? We're sure you wouldn't rely on updating your Facebook status.
But that's exactly what a pair of girls in Adelaide, Australia did when they wandered into just such a drain Sunday. The 10- and 12-year-old girls used their cell phones to update their statuses on the social networking site in order to let friends know they were lost under the streets of their suburban neighborhood. The Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) rescued the girls, but only after their friends had called 000, the Australian equivalent of 911.
The MFS was concerned about the girls' communicating via Facebook rather than calling emergency responders directly, but it is quite possible the girls felt as if they were in no immediate danger. Glenn Benham, one of the involved firefighters, told the Daily Mail, "We could have come to their rescue much faster than relying on someone else being online, then replying to them, then calling us. It is a worrying development." He continued, "Young people should realize it's better to contact us directly. Luckily they are safe and well. It's awful to think what could have happened because of the delay."
On first thought, for someone in a potentially perilous situation, local authorities seem like the first group to call. But, as no cell phone's battery life is as long as we'd like, a Facebook update or tweet would would better conserve your phone's precious energy. As one Atlanta, Georgia city councilman showed, sometimes the Internet is faster than a phone. Similarly, Web-based updates are quick and quiet, perfect for a potentially violent situation like a home invasion. Expect to see more 911-esque alert messages popping up on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks in the future.