On Friday evening on my way home from work, the news ticker binged on my phone that multiple shootings had occurred around Paris. I didn’t think too much about it at first but I, along with the rest of the world, quickly discovered how terrible this situation truly turned out to be.
The news hit really close to home. My husband works for a company based out of Paris. We have friends who live there. We walked through its streets together less than two months ago. The situation was equally horrifying and heartbreaking. My immediate reaction was to contact our friends there. Due to expensive international calling charges, Facebook was the easiest option. We were thankful and relieved to know that our friends had chosen to stay in that Friday night and were nowhere near the attacks.
Not long after I received confirmation from them that they were safe, I noticed something at the top of my Facebook newsfeed where my friends had “checked in” as safe via Facebook. I remember hearing something about the service, dubbed Safety Check, during the Nepalese earthquake earlier this year, but I hadn’t seen how it was implemented until this past weekend. Similar to an Amber Alert, Facebook enables a “state of emergency” and allows users to check in based on their “lives in” information or recent check-in’s from location services. The concept behind this new tool is amazing and reinforces how powerful social media can be. It really hit home for me that this was definitely one of those times when social media got it right.
The Power Of Social Media
SDB Gets It.
Over the weekend, several other news articles published information about how social media outlets worked to pitch in to help: AirBnB, which was holding a host conference in Paris over the weekend, reached out to all of its Parisian hosts to help stranded travelers. Google Hangouts offered free international calls to France to check on loved ones. Twitter created hashtags such as #RechercheParis (“searching Paris”) and #PorteOuverte (“open door”) to help locate friend and family or to offer a place to stay for those who needed it. Uber even temporarily discontinued its surge pricing (increased prices during high volume hours) to assist survivors. Facebook implemented a French flag profile pictures overlay to show support and solidarity for the people of France.
This is a shining example of how social media, an industry that can sometimes be seen in a negative light, can become a symbol for compassion and support. It’s not always about likes, retweets, or followers. This was just an outpouring of solidarity, support, and community. While it’s just a tiny portion of the globe, it genuinely warmed my heart to see how much social media was able to connect people from all over the world.
Je t’aime, Paris.