Twitter Crucial — Again — as World Reacts to Tsunami

Once again, Twitter is proving a crucial tool for people around the world to communicate and connect. Fast on the heels of protests in the Middle East organized with the help of Twitter, now the communication is all about the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and following tsunami in Japan.

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No surprise, cell phone networks were overloaded and service spotty following the quake — NTT DoCoMo restricted up to 80 percent of voice calls — Twitter proved a valuable communication tool.

An hour after the quake hit, Online Social Media reported that Twitter was experiencing 1,200 tweets posted each minute from Tokyo. And people have been sharing their first hand experience by posting videos and photos taken with digital cameras and phones. This is certainly the best-documented natural disaster of its kind.

Organizations running relief efforts have been using Twitter as an instantaneous, global bulletin board, posting information including lists of shelters and tsunami alerts on the service. And of course the Red Cross is looking to raise money, as it did after the earthquake in Haiti.

While people in Japan use Twitter to tell their friends they're safe — or ask about those missing — the rest of the world is weighing in.

Today, the top trending topics worldwide on Twitter included #PrayforJapan, #tsunami, #japon, and TextREDCROSS. A range of stars, from 50 Cent to Paris Hilton to William Shatner, have tweeted their prayers.

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