Social Media Come to Haiti’s Rescue

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There hasn’t exactly been a lot of good news coming from Haiti in the last 48 hours. The nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, was almost completely destroyed, with many bodies still buried in the rubble or piled on the streets. Government officials in the country have claimed the possible death toll could be as much as 100,000.

However, one positive thing worth noting is the incredible use of social media to raise money for the relief effort in Haiti. As WalletPop reports, text messages and sites like Facebook and Twitter have raised $1.2 million in a single day yesterday and more than $3 million so far in total.

Much of this effort has been mobilized through Twitter. The Red Cross launched a campaign to donate $10 to Haiti via text message (Text HAITI to 90999) Wyclef Jean, the popular musician, followed suit, using Twitter to reach out to people and get them to donate $5 to his charity, Yele Haiti. (Text YELE to 501501.) In both cases, the donation will automatically be added to your cell phone bill.

Soon after, some of the biggest names on Twitter joined the cause. Shaquille O’neal, who has 2.7 million followers, Tweeted about the charities, as did Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist. According to CNN, by the middle of the day yesterday, four of the most popular topics on Twitter were related to the earthquake in Haiti. Pictures of the devastation in Haiti also swept across Twitter, which undoubtedly provided more motivation for donations.

Today, Facebook launched a Global Relief page to help “spotlight efforts” people are making to respond to the Haiti Crisis. This is on top of Facebook’s Causes page, which has also helped to provide aid to Haiti.

Not only is this great publicity for the social networking sites involved (especially Twitter, since studies in the past have shown nearly half of all tweets are really just “pointless babble”) but this has also served as proof that charity can go viral, too.

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