In the wake of the terrible events that took place last night in Paris, people looking for help turned to social media, and each of the three tech giants proved useful in a way.
Considering that last year France was the most visited country by international tourist arrivals, and that most of those tourists headed to the City of Light, it’s a certainty that there are also foreigners among the victims of last night’s attacks. Right now, it really doesn’t matter what nationality those people had, what’s important to remember is that innocent human lives were lost in a meaningless act. Yet again, technology helped the people who were directly affected by these events to stay in touch with others that either needed or offered help.
First of all, the search giant posted on its own social network, Google+, that Hangouts calls to France won’t be subjected to fees. This could turn useful for the French who left their country to live, work or study somewhere else, and who are concerned about the fate of their Parisian relatives. Besides that, the relatives of tourists currently visiting Paris could turn to Hangouts to stay in touch. It would’ve been great if Microsoft did the same move with Skype, but a single solution is better than no solution at all.
Facebook followed suit and deployed Safety Check for Paris Terror Attacks, a page where users in the affected area can mark themselves as being safe. The moments following such events are often characterized by chaos, and tools like Facebook’s Safety Check could prove extremely important in such situations. As the social network emphasized, “Communication is critical in these moments both for people there and for their friends and families anxious for news.”
As seen in the above picture, the page features a map of the affected area, a search box that enables users to look for friends that might have been there, as well as a drop-down list with friends that were in the area, the ones that marked themselves safe, and the ones that haven’t been marked, yet. Facebook also enabled notifications, so that users know when their friends mark themselves safe.
The social network also helped its users apply a blue, white, and red photo filter, to display their solidarity with the victims of the attacks, and with the French people in general. The option, which is available both on mobile and on the Web, can be accessed by going to the Facebook Page, and clicking on the ‘Try It’ button. For an increased convenience, Facebook also allows users to set the date when the filter should expire.
While Twitter wasn’t involved directly in helping the victims, it proved to be an excellent means of communication for the ones providing help. More precisely, Parisians wanting to host people who remained stranded after the attacks posted on Twitter using the #PorteOuverte (French for #OpenDoor) hashtag.
Once again, social media has helped people stay together after life-altering events, and this is firm proof that it can also be used for more than just gossiping and showing-off. Here’s to hoping that such attacks won’t happen ever again!
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