Nepal earthquake: how social media has been used in the aftermath

A lot has been written in recent years about the use of social media in disaster relief , in particular platforms such as Ushahidi which is used to crowdsource data and visualise incidents which enables real-time response from relief agencies.

I first heard about the earthquake in Nepal on Saturday 25th April 2015 via a direct message on Twitter about a colleague in Kathmandu being safe despite damage to his house. I was meant to be visiting two weeks later.

I watched the news unfold on Twitter that day with horror, as the death toll continued to increase. Netizens were sharing awful images of the destruction.  

Within hours of the earthquake Mark Zuckerburg had announced the launch of Facebook Safety Check, which is a tool created in 2014 to link people in disasters.  Similarly, Google Person Finder had been launched. That day my social media timelines were awash with charities that had reacted immediately and set up fundraising campaigns. Those fundraising campaigns both on and offline have continued. This drone footage by filmmaker Paul Borrud, shows the devastating results of the earthquake around Kathmandu, and has been used as a fundraising tool by UNICEF UK. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yir6ArRZY4o One interesting development a week after the earthquake was a Twitter account set up by the Nepalese Government National Emergency Operation Center, which started to tweet the official number of people who had died and who were injured. The account also announced advice on information such as access to clean water and the relief that was being received from around the world. This account helps raise awareness of the tremendous support from the national and international community. Similarly, the infographic below, produced yesterday, shows how UK aid has been spent 

The impact of social media in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake is merely a drop in the ocean, but it’s better than nothing. This excellent article on GlobalVoices written the day after the first earthquake, describes in more detail the global social media response to the disaster.

 

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Oxfam explain growing inequality in a social media mash-up

Oxfam have recently released a video highlighting the ever growing inequality in the world. The video tells the story of inequality through an online conversation between two friends using Facebook Messenger, status updates and and Skype video chat. The conversation starts off talking about one of their Dad’s being like a grumpy cat, and then there is a news announcement that according to Oxfam “the combined wealth of the world’s 85 richest people is equal to the 3.5 billion poorest.” One of the friends jokes about the Dad being one of the 85 richest. It then turns quite upbeat with one of the friends receiving a scholarship to attend a top school. The music turns sad and one of the girls explains that their father is having to move his factory abroad due to tax reasons. Things go from worse to worse and the father is killed in a mining accident.

The video then jumps to a quick succession of authentic news items from Al Jazeera, France 24, PTV Philippines etc announcing that inequality has reached an all time high and the richest 1% in the world will own more than the rest of 99% of the population by 2016.

To date the video has been watched by just over 6,000 people and has 31 likes. It’s different from most of the other charity videos I’ve watched in recent years, but I’m not sure how effective it is. A ‘like’ for every 200 views is fairly impressive, but obviously people aren’t sharing it that much in their networks or it would have had more views. I wonder why they chose to use this social media / news reporting mash-up style. Maybe they are educating a future group of latent activists? Or perhaps they just want more teenagers to sign their petition to take action against inequality?

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Social Media Lounge – Uganda

Today is the launch of the Social Media Lounge in Uganda, a place where enthusiasts can write and discuss freely and regularly about social media and its ever changing dynamics. The lounge is intended be a place to share and build a community together, a place where it will be possible to teach, to learn from each other, to mentor and also to create a singular point of focus for the social media conversation in Uganda going forward.

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Collins Mugume one of the co-founders of the lounge said “We want to create a space where social media could be owned and grown in Uganda. To create a place to grow social media authorities who could become the pillars on which the industry could rely on, to guide and shape its growth.”

Colin Asimwe, co-founder added “Eventually, we are looking at getting to a place where social media is respected as a viable channel and an integral part of the communication mix instead of an esoteric amorphous black-hole into which clients and brands throw money and hope – merely hope, for a few likes and some interaction. When there is a market understanding of the social media landscape, an adequate growth in the resource pool and we can effectively measure it and can make predictions on trends – I think we will consider ourselves successful.”

I asked Collins, why they had decided to call in a lounge. “Despite what most people believe social media is first of all social; driven by interactions, human nature and conversations. It is as close to human conversations can get without physical presence. Lounges are a place of recline; people come there to relax from their troubled and beleagured lives. But also to regroup, replenish energies and and re-strategise. The lounge will be such place taking the industry’s best and making to tackle the challenges that will take Social to the next level.

What can members do?
Members can contribute to the social media conversation in Uganda by writing articles, insights, reviews and opinions on the landscape. They can be a part of formalising the social media agenda in Uganda by creating the environment which eventually will raise the standard of social media practice in Uganda.

The contributing community members so far include;

1. Maureen Agena
2. Bernard Olupot
3. Sam Agona
4. Grace Natabaalo
5. Onyait Odeke
6. Tusiime Samson
7. Patricia Kahill
8. Eunice Gnay Namirembe
9. Brain Kyeyune
10. Mujuni Raymond
11. Allan Ssenyonga
12. Olive Nakiyemba

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Can a hashtag change social policy – #EvilNanny

Many of you will have already seen the horrific video which was circulating on social media last week about a nanny abusing an 18 month old baby.

The father, Eric Kamanzi, had suspected that the nanny was abusing his daughter so set up a hidden camera in his living room. The video is truly shocking and shows the nanny, 22 year old, Jolly Tumuhirwe, throwing the girl to the floor after she is sick and then beating her with a torch, kicking and standing on her. The video was originally posted on Facebook and shared with friends, but then went viral and has been viewed with horror all over the world. She has been arrested and charged with attempted murder.

In Uganda the video was shared using the hashtag #EvilNanny and #NannyfromHell and was covered all over the media. The hashtag was trending in Uganda and was a catalyst for debate in civil society about child raising in modern Uganda.

At the time of writing a YouTube clip of the NBS report in Uganda has had well over 400 comments. Many other media channels have posted the footage, all of which have attracted similar discourse. The video has created uproar on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook across the globe and has resulted in the Ugandan government reviewing legislation as a matter of urgency. Is this an example of how social media is helping to change the world for the better? It’s a shame that we need to rely on these relatively new platforms to make people aware of such atrocities.

http://youtu.be/oaACywtSrCI

Ms Tumuhirwe is due in court on 8th December 2014.

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Social Media Summit Uganda

On November 26th 2014 I presented at the inaugural Social Media Summit in Kampala, Uganda. The conference and CEO breakfast, organised by Intensity Technologies, was attended by over 160 delegates ranging from senior government comms officials to representatives from the police, banks, agencies, NGOs and civil society.

There were over 15 speakers including Natasha Basson, Chris Bitti, Boaz Shani, Ruth Aine, Jaya Murthy, Michael Niyitegeka, Collins Mugume and many more.

The event was the top trending story on Twitter that day with over 11 million impressions.

Below is a link to my presentation and a storify compiled by Ruth Aine, one of the speakers.

 

 

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