New Delhi: Phone networks getting jammed during terror attacks or in the case of natural disasters is no surprise. However, the 13 July attacks in Mumbai showed how citizens relied on social media to communicate, help, sympathise and spread the word. It was micro-blogging website Twitter which emerged as the destination where most of this exchange happened. Considering Twitter is a new phenomenon and has fewer users in India than social media websites such as Facebook, this comes as a surprise.
Research by Vangal Software and Services Pvt. Ltd, a technology firm that works in the area of providing analytics to businesses on social media, has discovered some trends in the usage of social media, especially Twitter, during and after the blasts. According to a report by it, there were 4.56 lakh mentions about the blasts in Mumbai on the Internet (on Twitter, social networking sites, news portals and blogs) and 85% of them were on Twitter. Vangal’s founder Vinita Ananth attributes the trend its ability “to getting the word out quickly”. “People wanted to respond to the crisis immediately and chip in with help as much as possible,” she said.
Looking at the combined number for 13, 14 and 15 July, 54% mentions were on Twitter while 40% of them were on social networking sites, mostly on Facebook. Only 3% of mentions were on news sites and the remining 3% on blogs. Ananth said that over the years blogging has been going down as people have less time to spare and they want to communicate faster and are less inclined to write at length on the web. “With Twitter you need only 140 characters to communicate, which is even better.”