On January 13th, 2010 the small island of Haiti was devastated. Right before 5:00 PM, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook Haiti to it’s core. The earthquake caused massive damage and left thousands of Haitians homeless, and hundreds of thousands dead. Almost instantly, the popular social networking website Twitter was flooded with an outpour of earthquake related tweets. These tweets informed millions of the situation in Haiti and allowed for an immediate understanding of the devastation.
This isn’t the first time Twitter has been used as a global news source; a few months ago the world watched as Iranian civilians tweeted during their “revolution,” catching the internet by firestorm and even stopping Twitter from doing their regularly scheduled maintenance.
The day of the earthquake in Haiti, celebrities and various public figures with Twitter accounts began asking everyone to see the importance of this event and to donate and help the Haiti relief efforts. Upon these request, the internet was turned into a wildfire of unification, the Red Cross set up a number to donate via text (“HAITI” to 90999), which in turn donated $10 to the cause by adding it to your phone bill. So far over $5,000,000 has been raised.
This is the perfect definition of “word-of-mouth” viral. The tweets are in part what made the Haiti relief efforts get as much attention as fast as it did. Once word hit that the relief efforts were established and the was permitted, millions of internet users began talking about it – and not only on Twitter, but YouTube, Tumblr, Myspace, Facebook, and even off the computer with friends and family. The donations were pouring into Haiti. As drastic and terrible as the events were over there, a positive buzz began filling the air. However, that buzz is met with overwhelming sorrow as millions mourn in Haiti and around the world for those lost in this tragic day.
The outcry of help from celebrities, public figures, and even the average internet user shows the importance of social networking and the positive effects of viral discussions.
Text “HAITI” to 90999 and donate $10 to the relief efforts, or visit RedCross.org for more information.