When a region is in crisis, from Tehran to Mumbai, people across the world take to social-networking sites to share information and brainstorm ways to stay involved. The response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti has been no different.
On Facebook, a group called Earthquake Haiti has drawn more than 105,000 members since the quake struck Tuesday. The group's wall is filled with prayers, suggestions for charitable donations and photos of Haitian residents. The group is also publicizing a fundraiser set to begin Thursday afternoon (January 14) and run for nearly 24 hours.
A Facebook member named Roger Dormevil posted a comment that he is still trying to find out information about his two sisters, brothers and niece. "Please any information will help," he wrote.
Other English-language Facebook groups contain as many as 74,000 members. Some are devoted to fundraising, others to sharing stories about a country suffering an unspeakable tragedy.
Twitter, too, as been a staging ground for information about the quake and its aftermath. Before reporters were in place, news organizations leaned on updates from users on the ground. Carel Pedre, a Haitian radio host, has been tweeting nonstop about the situation and communicating with other users.
"If U need to get in touch with friends & family in Haiti send me a private message with names and phone numbers. I'll get back to U!" he wrote Tuesday.
A musician named Richard Morse has been sending out heartbreaking updates about what he's been seeing. "You don't have to drive to see the damage, where ever you walk there is something out of the ordinary," he wrote. "Often the suffering is silent."
On Twitter, Wyclef Jean announced that he was on his way to Haiti shortly after the quake. His Yele Haiti organization has been heavily involved in community-service efforts in the country since its founding in 2005. After his arrival, Wyclef's group has continued to send out Twitter pleas for donations and crisis updates.
"We need the US military as soon as possible n Haiti," he wrote before flying out. "We need the 4 million Haitians that live out side of Haiti to act now, we need da world!"