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Police and Hydro Quebec workers survey the scene where a section of road on a causeway collapsed following an earthquake in Bowman, Quebec Wednesday June 23, 2010.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Lessons from a modern-day earthquake: Hide under a table or desk, stay away from windows and mirrors and follow the tweets. When a 5.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Ontario and Quebec Wednesday, Twitter and other social media sites became the go-to destinations for facts, stories, and even jokes.

There are normally about 100-300 mentions of earthquakes on social networks every hour, according to Dave Fleet from PR Agency Thornley Fallis Communications who posted these stats on his blog. Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, there were more than 30,000 earthquake-related conversations. Twitter was at the heart of all of these earth-shattering tweets. Within just a few hours after the quake, there were nearly 90,000 mentions on the micro-blogging site.

While people will continue to tune into mainstream news to get the facts, in the wake of an unexpected event like this many are using Twitter to share stories and connect to other people. A few years ago the "big" media overlooked this chatter, but today they are embracing it. Whether they're reading tweets on air or rolling live Twitter streams into ongoing online coverage, reporters are now jumping in to the social media sandbox with two feet.

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However, yesterday's quake was just one of a few famous tremors that triggered tweeting frenzies. The first was in the spring of 2008 when a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit southern China. Within minutes Twitter users in China started messaging about the quake, almost an hour before news outlets picked up on the story. When subsequent earthquakes have hit, no matter where in the world, they have instantly become trending topics.

Fortunately, Wednesday's Canadian quake caused very little damage. With no fatalities or serious injuries to report, tweeters took the liberty to have a little fun with the news, sharing links to "I Survived the Toronto Earthquake 2010" t-shirts and spreading jokes. Here are just a few classics that made the rounds on Twitter.

"The earthquake triggered a tsunami at the G20 fake lake" - @AndrewFstewart

"The earthquake in Toronto was just thousands of England fans jumping back on the bandwagon" - @mlse

"That wasn't an earthquake. It was just Quebec trying to separate." - @stevepayne

I was about to meet my fiancé for lunch when I first heard about the quake (didn't feel a thing). My phone's battery was quickly dying, so I asked him to bring my charger to the restaurant. While we sat and waited for our food, I read him minute-by-minute Twitter updates about the earthquake, knowing that if there were an aftershock it would be tweeted well before it would show up on any other platform and I'd have my phone in hand to follow along.

Yesterday's quake was just one of a few famous tremors that have triggered tweeting frenzies. The first was in the spring of 2008 when a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit southern China. Within minutes Twitter users in China started messaging about the quake, almost an hour before news outlets picked up on the story. When subsequent earthquakes have hit, no matter where in the world, they have instantly become trending topics.

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Fortunately, Wednesday's Canadian quake caused very little damage. With no fatalities or serious injuries to report, tweeters took the liberty to have a little fun with the news, sharing links to "I Survived the Toronto Earthquake 2010" t-shirts and spreading jokes. Here are just a few classics that made the rounds on Twitter.

"The earthquake triggered a tsunami at the G20 fake lake" - @AndrewFstewart

"The earthquake in Toronto was just thousands of England fans jumping back on the bandwagon" - @mlse

"That wasn't an earthquake. It was just Quebec trying to separate." - @stevepayne

I was about to meet my fiancé for lunch when I first heard about the quake (didn't feel a thing). My phone's battery was quickly dying, so I asked him to bring my charger to the restaurant. While we sat and waited for our food, I read him minute-by-minute Twitter updates about the earthquake, knowing that if there was an aftershock it would be tweeted well before it would show up on any other platform.

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About the Author
Social Media Blogger

Amber MacArthur is a new media consultant, speaker, and journalist. As co-founder of agency MGImedia.ca, her team has managed social media initiatives for Tony Robbins, Canada Goose, Rogers, the American Dental Association, among other organizations. She is also an exclusive speaker with The Lavin Agency where she keynotes dozens of conferences across North America every year. More

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