How social media played a role in the aftermath of the Paris attacks
The day, 13th November will be marked as a black day in the history of France. On this day, suicide terrorists affiliated to ISIS mounted deadly attacks in Paris that left at least 129 people dead and around 300 injured. The social media, which is blamed for inflaming passions and often construed as den for extreme views actually played a very crucial role in helping people across the world connect with their near and dear ones in this time of distress and also show solidarity with the people of France.
Millions of people took to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post messages of solidarity and support as well as create well meaning hashtags and posts. On Twitter, Parisians used the hashtag #PorteOuverte, which means “Open Door” in French, popped up on Friday night in the immediate aftermath of the attacks as a way for Parisians who were safe at home to offer shelter to others around Paris who may need a place to stay. The hashtag had been user over 611,000 times on Twitter as of early Saturday afternoon.
For those who were stranded in the United States due the flights being cancelled, Americans started a hashtag #StrandedInUS to offer shelter in their homes for any Parisians who needed a place to stay for the night. As of Saturday afternoon, the hashtag had been tweeted over 16,000 times.
Facebook also took its part in helping the Parisians by immediately activating its “Safety Check” feature, which allowed users who reside in or are visiting Paris to notify their Facebook friends that they are safe. Many users praised Facebook for quickly launching the feature on Friday night. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his own Facebook page:
My thoughts are with everyone in Paris tonight. Violence like this has no place in any city or country in the world….
Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, November 13, 2015
On Saturday, Facebook took another step and launched an app that allowed the site’s users to overlay the red, white, and blue French flag on top of their profile picture to show their support for the French people. Below each picture, a message from Facebook appeared: “Change your profile picture to support France and the people of Paris.” Zuckerberg also changed his profile picture, and thousands of Facebook users followed suit.
While the hashtag #PrayForParis also became a worldwide trending topic on many social platforms; as of Saturday afternoon, the hashtag had already been used over 5.7 million times on Twitter, and 4.8 million times on Instagram. Citizens around the world used the hashtag to share messages and images of support for the French people, include images featuring the French flag and Eiffel Tower.