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India: Twitting The Terror

The terror attacks in Mumbai have shocked India and the world. The mainstream media sources covered the news extensively and the citizen journalists were also equal to the task as the events unfolded. The Wired has mentioned how Twitter made an impact as a source of first hand information during this tragedy. Twitter feeds from numerous people have been sharing latest information about what is being said in media, blogs, or information from first hand accounts on the attacks. Dozens of twitter updates are appearing every single minute.

Shefali Yogendra explains why twitter is the perfect tool for emergencies:

As Mumbai saw an unprecedented instance of what can only be described as ‘distributed terrorism’, Twitter sprung into action. Twelve hours later, Twitter users all over the world were saying they found Twitter updates more reliable, timely and clear.

The following characteristics of Twitter make it a perfect tool for use in emergencies – both for disseminating updates and information, and for coordinating help efforts such as contacting friends and relatives, and organizing blood donation drives.

Sepia Mutiny agrees:

Twitter has also been a great way to get details about what’s going on. Try typing Oberoi for example. “Terrorists trapped” also results in a slew of Tweets.

While the TV and media reports have been accused of using sensationalism and inflicting more terror from rumors, the twitter feeds portray the real sense of what is happening and how people are coping with it. Here are some examples of entries which appeared in the #mumbai channel feed:

aravindjose: Dont worry about blast sounds. They are by NSG to break off the doors. Not by terrorists – Maj.Gen.

puneet: In past 20 years that i have lived in mumbai Never have I seen such empty streets in Mumbai

asteris: http://helpmumbai.pinstorm.com, a comprehensive guide to relevant emergency phone numbers and info on the #Mumbai attack

quiz_master: CNNIBN: Deshmukh – “20-25 terrorists came in mumbai, 7 killed, 1 caught

These twitter updates were used by many of the networks to show streaming news on their news channels on TV.

However there is a rumor going around that the #Mumbai twitter channel has been asked to shut down. Arzan at Mumbai Metblogs reports:

Twitter users were asking people to stop sending updates and there were rumors that the Government and/or the Military had asked the twitter channel #mumbai be shut down.

However there is no official record of this and Dina Mehta clarified this on twitter. She reports that the news channels have stopped carrying twitter feeds on their TV broadcasts.

A Twitter users responded:

nexplicable: Its stupid to ask #mumbai posts to stop. Something else will come up in no time. Security forces need to learn to work with this.

#mumbai Twitter Search

This post is part of the Global Voices coverage on the terror attacks in Mumbai, India on November 26, 2008.

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