Instagram emerges from Sandy a major social media player

The photo-sharing site became the No. 1 platform for spreading information on the storm, thrusting it into the spotlight alongside Twitter and Facebook.

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The tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina, and the Haiti quake all were accompanied by a surge in the use of various social media that demonstrated they were good for more than marketing campaigns and idle chat. YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook all earned props for the important roles they played.

A certain legitimacy also accrued to social media with mainstream media adoption. (Remember when Rick Sanchez started using Twitter on his CNN program?)

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, another social channel has assumed its place as a mainstay. Instagram was not only the main service people used to share their images of the superstorm (at a clip of 10 per second), but it was also a primary source of pictures for CNN, Time magazine, and other major media outlets.

By noon on Oct. 30, as the storm cut its deadly swath along the East Coast, more than 300,000 photos had been shared with the #sandy hashtag in addition to 144,000 with the #hurricanesandy tag and another 23,000 using the #frankenstorm tag.

“There are now 10 pictures per second being posted with the hashtag #sandy,” Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said in a statement published by the Poynter Institute.

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