Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Ahmed Kathrada's funeral highlights divisions within the ruling ANC party

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

It's Not EU, It's Me

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Markets muted as UK begins Brexit proceedings

Read more

THE DEBATE

'Thank you and goodbye': Clock starts on Brexit negotiations (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

'Thank you and goodbye': Clock starts on Brexit negotiations (part 2)

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'Ghost in the Shell', 'The Confession' and Jean Rouch centenary

Read more

FOCUS

Italy: Anti-establishment mayor of Rome faces grim reality of power

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Refugees of rap: Using music to speak out about the Syrian war

Read more

THE POLITICAL BRIEF

Rise of populism: Could far-right leader Le Pen be France's next president?

Read more

Americas

Twitter tells the story of devastation following quake

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-01-13

The storm of Twitter activity following the earthquake in Haiti is a reminder of how social networking sites – rather than traditional news media - have become the first stop for information about and reactions to major catastrophes.

Following the devastating earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale that rocked Haiti on Tuesday night, Twitter, the microblogging and social networking site, has been flooded with words of support for the Haitian people and calls for relief donations. Photos and live accounts of the damage on the ground and messages from Haitians trying to locate missing family members are also appearing all over the site.

Photo posted on Twitter by LisandroSuero. See more images here: http://twitpic.com/photos/LisandroSuero © Lisandro Suero

With telephone lines down, the flurry of Twitter activity is a vivid reminder of how social networking sites – rather than traditional news media - have become the first stop for information about and reactions to major catastrophes. Twitter allows users to post messages or "tweets" of no more than 140 characters.

Shortly after the quake, whose epicentre was inland and only 10 miles (16 km) from Port-au-Prince, one Twitter user on the ground, troylivesay, posted on his account: "Just experienced a MAJOR earthquake here in Port au Prince - walls were falling down. - we are ALL fine - pray for those in the slums."

The user continued to post updates as aftershocks rattled the island, describing how church groups were singing all through the night in prayer. “It is a beautiful sound in the middle of a horrible tragedy”, posted troylivesay.

Images of the quake taken by a journalist, Carel Pedre, on his mobile phone and then shared by another Twitter user quickly spread around the Web, providing startling images of damage and panic-stricken people in the streets. The photos, “re-tweeted” by concerned Twitter users, were the first images to reach major news sites.

Another Twitter user, Lisandro Suero (http://twitpic.com/photos/LisandroSuero) has posted several images of the devastation, taken by him or other users.

Other Twitter users reached out in an attempt to obtain information about missing relatives. “Anybody know Alice Coonen or Alix Pierre-Louis Pls let me know, they're my mom/stepdad in Port au Prince” was posted in the middle of the night by a user called maite67.

Photo posted on Twitter by LisandroSuero. See more images here: http://twitpic.com/photos/LisandroSuero © Lisandro Suero

Meanwhile, Western Twitter accounts, from that of the American Red Cross to famous Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean, were filled with urges to donate money to relief efforts.

Beyond sharing practical information, some in Haiti took to their Twitter accounts simply to express their grief or describe their shock at the events. As one user named fredodupoux said: “It's really ugly, just like in a bad dream.”
 

Date created : 2010-01-13

  • HAITI

    Death toll could hit 'well over 100,000', premier says

    Read more

  • HAITI

    International community rallies to aid quake-struck Haitians

    Read more

COMMENT(S)