In the wake of the Nepalese earthquake just a week ago, millions have flocked to social media to get real-time updates on the unfolding of the disaster. Not only this but social media has been instrumental in finding and locating loved ones.
Facebook’s Safety Check invites users to “mark themselves safe” if they are in the earthquake affected areas. Users can also check whether their friends are currently in the affected areas and if they have marked themselves safe. This idea was as a result of the devastating Japan Tsunami in 2011 where millions of people had little clue about the whereabouts of their friends and family for weeks.
To date, over 7 million people have used this feature just for the Nepal Earthquake alone. Facebook has also been prompting users to donate to Nepal over the past week, and said Thursday that it has raised more than $10 million. The company also donated an additional $2 million of its own.
Google too has activated their Person Finder tool that was launched in the aftermath of the 2011 Haiti earthquake. It is an open source API that lets people create a ‘record’ of themselves. The tool provides information about people who may have been affected by the earthquake in Nepal and also provides an option to give knowledge about someone residing in Nepal. They can also track the whereabouts of their friends and family and subscribe to updates about people’s locations. The tool also lets you embed it on your website to enable people to search or track people’s locations. The service currently has around 5,300 records entered and supports search by SMS.
Twitter users based out of Kathmandu have tweeted photos of the destruction, and is also being used as a platform for a rescue efforts, public service announcements and to locate and reconnect with those affected.Twitter is also assisting the process raising funds through UNICEF. Twitter’s newly purchased Periscope, a live video broadcasting platform, has been used by many reporters to deliver live updates on the ground.
Apple appealed to its iTunes users to donate money to the American Red Cross through its iTunes Store. By visiting a special iTunes page, customers can automatically donate to the Red Cross, where 100 percent of the donations will be used for their ongoing efforts to help survivors.
Meanwhile, voice calling application Viber has announced that they would be switching off Out Billing for Nepal users. Even news outlets like the BBC World Service and BBC Nepali Service are using the platform to make additional broadcasts to share information over the air and online about things like where people can get aid and updates from the government on relief operations.
Crowd-sourcing has also been popular for fundraising. Sites like Causevox and Kickstarter has given fundraisers a secure platform to raise relief funds for various charities or personal projects to help the disaster-struck region.
No doubt over the next few weeks as the disaster recovery continues we will continue to see many acts of kindness, feats of bravery, reunited loved ones and continuous fundraising for relief for the people of Nepal.