If Iran's post-election uprising last summer was the world's first "Twitter revolution," the massive Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti was the first "Twitter disaster."
In a sign of how much the media landscape has changed since the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Twitter users around the world quickly turned to the massively popular microblogging site to read the latest news, express their sympathy, and learn how to help. Haiti quickly became the site's top "trending topic," edging out such favorites as #TeamConan and #nowTHATSghetto.
In an effort to catch the wave, established media sources like the News York Times and CNN used Twitter's new list feature to set up aggregator feeds featuring the latest updates from the ground in Haiti. The tweeting fever did not let up in the days that followed. On Wednesday Jan. 20, more than a week after the original quake, a rush of Twitter activity following news of new aftershocks in Port-au-Prince actually shut down the site.
It's clear that Twitter became a portal for people looking to connect about the tragedy--just click the #Haiti hashtag and then refresh after three seconds if you don't believe me. But did Twitter actually replace other, more old-school media as a means for staying informed about events on the ground?
From Foreign Policy
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