Twitter, Facebook help spread aid, word after Mumbai blasts

Panic prevailed soon after three high intensity explosions rocked Mumbai. Even as rescue efforts were on, citizens stepped up to help each other. With the help of Internet tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Docs, the Mumbaikars quickly came up with all kinds of support ranging from shelter to blood donations for the victims.

Internet came into play after the telephone infrastructure of the metropolitan reportedly collapsed due to the excessive load of phone calls by people trying to reach out to those who were out of their homes at the time of blasts. The social network platforms such as Twitter and Facebook were not only flooded with updates and posting but also with information on blasts and helplines. Hashtags for #needhelp, and #Here2Help, which were created soon after the incident, were used by several people for a range of purposes.

One of the notable efforts was made by Nitin Sagar (@nitinsgr) Product Manager at Map My India (GPS and mapping company in India). Nitin created a public Google Spreadsheet to prepare a collection of necessary helpline numbers. Initially the spreadsheet had just five phone numbers but within few hours it grew to 200.

It is very heartening to see how Internet has evolved and now become more socially relevant. The Mumbaikars made the best ever use of the social networks at a time when it was required the most. The power of Internet, especially Twitter, became a superb user-friendly tool to communicate. Not only people shared information through the micro blogging site but also made appeals to maintain peace. The tweets initially focussed helpline numbers of hospitals but later shifted to guiding people through traffic. Users on Twitter continuously updated about the traffic density across the city.

With growing numbers of Internet users, we are likely to see more effective and extensive usage of Internet tools in near future. The technology has to be socially relevant. And Twitter and Facebook have just shown that at the right time.


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