This is terrible and unfolding even as my family and I drive relatively safely up the east Coast of the US. Disatisfied with the brief radio reports, I dialed up CNN.com in the car. Quickly moved over to Twitter and began following the #mumbai hashtag. This has become a bit of a chaotic single channel for tweets from those in India and around the world. Some have truly insightful details. Some just express their heart for the people suffering. Some are reweeting rumor. Some are saying stupid things.
Chaos Sorting Itself Out
Like a lot of social media, the worldwide "we" are just figuring out how to use social media in events like this and it is incredibly compelling. Will we spin off multiple hashtags to allow for those with local, factual knowledge and others for well wishers?
Already there is a list of phone numbers at MumbaiHelp that may be helpful for people trying to get information about loved ones and the situation.
Tim Malbon has an excellent blog post that explores how Twitter is being used as of this morning (EST). Here's a bit:
"There were no doubt many well-meaning people Twittering. Some on the ground were no doubt using the service to share their personal horror and to connect with the outside world must have been a comfort. But very few were on the ground. Most participants were far away. There needs to be some way of working out who in a situation like this has more authority than someone else. Of course, simply being there isn’t necessarily an indication of authority, but it does provide some context."
I have seen Tweets asking people to state their source for information to cut through the chatter. Others are concerned that those Twittering with knowledge of the ground situation are giving the attackers information as they monitor Twitter. Not so sure that this is a real concern as there is no way currently to sort through the misinformation in Twitter.
Be Accountable Act Independently Minimize Harm Seek the Truth and Report It
I hope this violent attack comes to a close soon. My heart goes out to the people directly affected.