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160322-brusTwitter, Facebook and other social media came to the rescue again after today’s terror bombings in Brussels – so much so that Belgian authorities urged citizens to use those channels rather than the overloaded cellphone network.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo sent out an urgent plea for users to avoid making phone calls and rely on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter instead. The plea was sent out via … Twitter:

In a Facebook post, the Belgian federal government asked citizens to avoid trying to send out or consume streaming music or video, so as to keep the channels clear for communication:

– Hou het internet vrij voor communicatie. Vermijd voorlopig streaming van muziek en video.- Pour ne pas surcharger l’…

Posted by Belgium.be on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bloomberg News quoted Jan Margot, a spokesman for the Belgian phone carrier Proximus, as saying connections may fail in some areas of Brussels, due to high call volumes. He advised callers to use text messages and social media if they couldn’t get through. Other wireless carriers told users to send texts or rely on Wi-Fi connections.

Facebook activated its “Safety Check” system to help users around the world connect with friends and family in the area, and to help Facebook users in Brussels let others know they’re OK. The Dutch Red Cross put up a similar “Safe and Well” site on the Web.

Twitter created a “Moments” portal page to pull together updates (with a warning about potentially sensitive content). #JeSuisBruxelles – “I Am Brussels” – joined #JeSuisCharlie and #PrayforSanBernadino in the pantheon of hashtag solidarity. Some used Tintin, the well-known Belgian cartoon character, as a channel for their sympathy. Politicians weighed in as well.

Here’s a sampling of the tweets:

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