Social Media: Haiti’s First Responder
By: Conrad Lisco
The value of social media has been a source of tension and debate since
it’s rapid ascent to the most disruptive media channel in recent history.
But its true value was confirmed by the way the world responded to the
devastating earthquake in Haiti. From on-the-ground relief efforts to
gestures of sympathy, the world reacted in a new [media] way.
Social Media was critical to delivering information about damage and
relief efforts. The world was counting on platforms like Facebook and
Twitter to get updates on what’s happening.
Preliminary analysis of data showed that micro-blogs (e.g. Twitter) were the
leading source of discussion about the quake, followed by online video,
blogs and other online boards/forums.
Within minutes, photos and videos were shared on Flickr and YouTube.
A Brazilian soldier reveals amazing footage he captured on his cell phone
moments after Haiti's main cathedral collapsed during a devastating
The New York Times blog, The Lede,
regularly posts with news about the quake.
It began with an editor’s note reading,
“Some Haitians have turned to the Web to
share information about the 7.0
magnitude earthquake that struck about
10 miles southwest of the capital of Port-
au-Prince on Tuesday evening. Any
readers who are in Haiti or in touch with
people there are encouraged to use the
comment thread below to share first-hand
accounts with us, or to point to them on
other Web sites.”
And that’s not all The New York Times is doing...they (and others)are
providing new means of communicating and getting stories out about
the disaster zone.
With telephone service destroyed due to
the earthquake, those on the ground
turned to Skype to speak with the media,
aid organizations or to communicate with
loved ones overseas.
Text message donations flooded charities around the world.
Thirty-nine percent of Facebook users in the U.S., U.K. and Australia have
donated money or goods to relief efforts – 13 percent through SMS.
With a deadly act of nature like this, it's hard to make sense of it all. And
although the scale of the devastation is unprecedented, so too is the the
global response. New forms of media are making it easier for us to respond -
faster, bigger and more efficiently.
All this despite the fact that only 10% of Haiti's 9 million people have
access to the Internet.
If you enjoyed this presentation (or at least enjoy using social media),
please visit www.redcross.org and support the relief efforts in Haiti.