In yet another example of social media permeating our lives, and in this case most certainly in a positive sense, it has played a significant role both in the dissemination of information about the Haiti earthquake, and in helping to raise awareness and funds for the various relief campaigns set up to help the disaster stricken country.
Thanks to social media, word of the earthquake spread immediately. With the infrastructure of the country in ruin, miraculously mobile phones and satellite broadband systems continued working, allowing tweets to provide a real-time view of what has been unfolding; images posted on TwitPic; Facebook; and Flickr, as well as videos on YouTube, to give a visual account of the situation; and bloggers like Troy Livesay and Carel Pedre to get the word out. Facebook has also become a hub of information as people desperately try to find out about family and friends in Haiti. Even the more traditional news organisations have been relying on social media to gather information.
Along with the use of social media to spread the word about the disaster, significant donations and word of mouth in support of the people of Haiti through social media channels have been seen. Haiti is still a trending topic on Twitter, with updates and information on how and where to donate appearing constantly, while Facebook has gone as far as setting up a new website,www.facebook.com/globalrelief, to help its members find ways to help. Bloggers have also jumped on the bandwagon, urging readers to donate if they can, and pointing them in the right direction to do so.
It is heartening to see the level of generosity generated in the wake of disaster, and the use that has been made of social media to spread the word. We have an array of technology tools at our disposal, some of which were not available during past disasters, which could make a real difference as the battered nation struggles to recover.
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