The worst earthquake to hit the Caribbean in 200 years struck Haiti on Tuesday 12th January 2010. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck near the Haitian Capital of Port-au-Prince, where it devastated the tiny nation, causing an unknown number of deaths and widespread destruction.
Social Media was the first to tell the story
Despite being the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti’s Internet connected devices were key implements in telling the rest of the globe about the emerging crisis.
Twitter was a key tool for distributing images and information from Haiti — just as it has been in a number of other crises across the globe. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that images sent via Twitpic and other Twitter-based photo services were hitting the Internet long before news agencies produced anything similar. And as Haitian officials were giving their reports on what happened, eyewitness accounts from Haitians in messages of 140 characters or less were already widespread. People were given further insight when the Los Angeles Times published a list of Twitter users believed to be tweeting from Haiti.
A WordPress-powered blog called Haitifeed is also delivering a steady stream of first-hand accounts as well as mainstream media reports from across the globe.
On Facebook, a group called Earthquake Haiti now has over 230,000 members. The group is largely being used for people to show support and trade news reports; however, there are some users who seem to be posting critical information including pleas for help to injured Haitians.
With telephone service toppled due to the earthquake, those on the ground turned to Skype to speak with the media, aid organisations, or to communicate with loved ones overseas. A Connecticut-based missionary organization that works in Haiti used Skype to communicate with their people there to get a sense of the devastation. Pedre also used Skype to give CBS News and many other media organizations a first-hand report about Haiti’s crisis.
Social media tools are emerging as a new type of news media, especially during times of crisis communications, were such channels are being used to primarily disseminate information about the happenings to the rest of the world as and when it is happening. Even US Rappers such as Busta Rhymes, P Diddy, Kanye West use their fame via social media platforms to urge donations and spread the word to fans and followers alike http://hhboard.ihiphop.com/hip-hop-news/456798-diddy-kanye-west-tony-yayo-more-plead-haiti-earthquake-relief.html
The full version of this article was originally on Aimee’s Blog which is no longer live: http://www.easywriting.co.uk/2010/01/18/haiti/