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Twitter Users React To Haiti Disaster

January 14, 2010

According to Twitter, four of the 10 most popular topics on the site recently were about Haiti, where a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Tuesday claiming thousands of lives.

Wyclef Jean, a Haitian-born musician and record producer, founded charity organization Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.  Yele was among other trending topics such as “Port-au-Prince” and “Help Haiti.”

Jean asked people to text the word “Yele” to the number 501501, which in doing so charges a user $5 and donates it to the fund.

“WARRIORS HAITI NEEDS U NOW!” Jean tweeted on Wednesday, about 24 hours after the quake. “PLEASE LEND YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT TO THE EARTHQUAKE RELIEF EFFORT TEXT ‘YELE’ TO 501 501 OR VISIT YELE.ORG.”

A search for the term Haiti on Twitter shows other ways to help, also in several languages, including links to websites for agencies like the Red Cross and Unicef.

Twitter users also tweeted news about the incident, such as aftershocks rattling the Haitian capital or the rising death toll.  People from Haiti wrote to find information about missing or injured friends and relatives.

Others used Twitter to express their shock, grief or anger.  One user wrote “R.I.P. to all involved with the Haiti disaster!  So sad.”

Another user named ladybot wrote: “Reading about Haiti on CNN.com; started crying. It sounds like absolute hell on earth. Not feeling like my $$ are nearly enough.”

Some users reacted on Twitter after U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson told viewers of his Christian Broadcasting Network on Wednesday that Haiti had been cursed by a “pact to the devil” in 1804, a reference to the date the country became independent from France.

User michaelianblack wrote, “What kind of deal with the devil did we make to deserve Pat Robertson?”

Larry Yu, Facebook’s spokesman, said that since the quake, there had been over 1,500 status updates a minute containing the word “Haiti.”

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