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Twitter played valuable role in Mumbai aftermath

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The role played by social media in the aftermath of the recent Mumbai violence was significant.

As traditional media struggled to keep pace, residents using micro-blogger, Twitter, poured forth a stream of information – almost as the violence unfolded.

One of those at the heart of this social media coverage was Mumbai student, Aditya Sengupta.  This is some of what he had to say later:

“While chaotic, disorganised and unverified, Twitter provided fast and helpful updates to the carnage that was underway in the heart of the city.

“Updates started appearing on Twitter several minutes before those on local news channels and roughly an hour before they did on CNN and BBC, with Twitter users speculating about loud blasts emanating from various places in and around Colaba, South Mumbai.

“Reports of gunshots at several places soon followed, sparking speculation of a clash between gangs and police. Subsequent updates about grenade attacks, fires and hostage situations at other locations made it clear that this was no gang war.

“Because of the nature of Twitter, updates were passed on by “retweeting” them – reposting someone else’s update and, ideally, giving credit to the original author. Because of this the information was spread far and wide very fast indeed.

“After the initial incredulity and shock, and after the news channels had well and truly caught on, a lot of speculation and guesswork gave way to more accurate updates, largely sourced from various local news channels.

“Several constructive actions and initiatives were taken by Twitter users, such as publicising the descriptions of one of the terrorists, the cars that they were said to have carjacked and the fact that they had even carjacked a police vehicle.

“Other useful information such as links to video streams of local news channels and lists of important phone numbers (helplines, embassies and consulates) were quickly posted and disseminated.

“The human face of Twitter took on another dimension when local users offered to try and call the friends and family of foreigners. What started on Twitter eventually grew into the Mumbai Help blog. I remember trying to call the phone numbers that a commenter on the blog said belonged to Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. They were eventually found dead at Nariman House (Mumbai Chabad House).

“Scans of the lists of dead and injured obtained by a blogger were sent to and posted on the Mumbai Help blog. A request for help on Twitter resulted in the images being transcribed into searchable text and republished. Calls for donations of specific types of blood were also posted and widely retweeted”.

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Written by ianandsue

December 3, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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