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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.



Latest update : 2014-08-03

Using Internet to battle Ebola outbreak in West Africa

In this edition: online initiatives to combat the spread of the Ebola virus; a new and alarming online trend in the US; and New Zealand retirement home residents dancing to « Happy ».


The devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa has already claimed hundreds of victims, and the public authorities and NGOS are doing what they can to stop the spread of this deadly disease. Countless social networkers are also doing what they can to assist the emergency measures. 

The Twitter hashtags #ebolatips et #ebolafacts are being used to share precautionary advice on how to limit the risk of infection. Basic, simple rules, like washing hands regularly or not eating meat from wild animals. These instructions are also available on these visuals created by UNICEF and available on the organization`s website to download, print out and distribute as widely as possible. And with this smartphone app, the information is also available in several West African languages including Jola and Wolof. 

And with many sharing this advice online, others are mapping the spread of the virus. Web users can contribute to the "Humanitarian Open Street Map" for example with satellite photos to help understand where affected populations are centered to deliver maps to field workers and deploy aid more effectively. This document, put together by Google Maps, has more of an educational purpose and tracks the history of the Ebola Virus and the spread of outbreaks from 1976 onwards. The tool illustrates the alarming increased frequency over the past forty years. 


Following on from the "Neknominations" phenomenon which involved “necking” or drinking vast amounts of alcohol in one go and then nominating your online contacts to the same, a new trend is sweeping the net in the U.S. The “Fire Challenge”; now this involves spraying a small amount of inflammable liquid on an area of the body and lighting it for a few moments. It’s highly dangerous and American web users are very concerned. 

There are a number of videos doing the rounds online testifying to the fact that things can sometimes go wrong … the young man in this clip doused his chest with a lot of liquid and then had to fight to extinguish the flames…he got a massive fright and has posted another video online showing the burns and wounds, and urging others to be careful.

And if only people would listen, because the "Fire Challenge" can result in very serious injuries. As a number of US media outlets have reported, there have been dozens of second or third degree burns cases over the past few weeks, some participants have even had to have skin grafts. 

Pretty alarming figures indeed, which have prompted large volumes of web users to take to social networks to criticise what they are describing as a ridiculous and extremely stupid trend, and also to reach out to parents to warn their children about the dangers involved in taking on the “Fire Challenge”. 


Novelist David Mitchell set up the @David_Mitchell Twitter handle to experiment with a new, and original to say the least, way of writing. He unveiled his new short story “The Right Sort” in Twitter`s 140 character bursts – posting some 280 tweets over a seven day period. It has proved extremely popular with over 15,000 web users following his tale.


She has been dubbed the "Woman in Black" by web users in the U.S. A quiet woman wearing a flowing black dress has been spotted on a number of occasions over the past three weeks, mysteriously strolling along highways across America. She has been seen in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and also Virginia and what she is doing and where she is going, nobody knows. The “Woman in Black`s” brother has revealed her name and age but hasn’t told us why she is wandering across the country…


Artist Hector Janse Van Rensburg has been taking pictures of random Facebook users and then sloth-ifying them. The series of watercolours, which is available to view on sharing site Imgur, is proving hugely popular online, and has even reached the eyes of Mark Zuckerberg himself, yes the Facebook founder has also been sloth-ified …


This video was put together by residents and staff at a retirement village in New Zealand… we see them dancing and lip synching to the Pharrell Williams mega hit “Happy” and they`ve gone viral … since being posted to YouTube on July 19th , their performance has racked up over 1 million 900,000 hits …

By Electron Libre



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