PEJ New Media Index: Social Media Aid the Haiti Relief Effort

  • January 21, 2010

The tragic January 13 earthquake that devastated the country of Haiti and killed an estimated 200,000 people inspired a wealth of online activity. The online communication site Twitter played an especially large role as it quickly filled with Haiti-related information and ways to offer aid, according to this week's analysis of social media by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Social media became central to the fundraising effort that raised millions of dollars.

Blogs and Twitter have played critical roles in spreading information and awareness during other international events, such as the June 2009 protests in Iran, according to PEJ's data. But the fundraising element here is something new-giving people fast, direct access to action.

Social media also became a source of information, offering first-hand accounts or assembling details which some mainstream media outlets then posted on their own websites.

For the entire week of January 11-15, 43% of the news links in blogs were about the tragedy in Haiti according to the New Media Index produced by PEJ. And, the event did not even occur until the middle of the week. For Thursday and Friday, 82% of the news links were on the subject.

Read the full report Social Media Aid the Haiti Relief Effort on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.