Twitter, 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:
IMPORTANT: Brussels mobile networks are getting saturated. Please contact through data messages: Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter. Avoid calls
— Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) March 22, 2016
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:
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:
— Fernando Pinilla (@FMPinilla) March 22, 2016
— Søren Juhl (@SoerenJuhl) March 22, 2016
LES ATTENTATS CE MARDI 22 MARS À BRUXELLES.
(Le dessin du Monde) pic.twitter.com/9OCYMhOCpf
— PLANTU (@plantu) March 22, 2016
— Pedro Rodríguez (@_Pedro17_) March 22, 2016
— White House Archived (@ObamaWhiteHouse) March 22, 2016
Watch this clip from earlier this year. Time & time again I have been right about terrorism. It’s time to get tough! https://t.co/8mnY3GFRzw
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2016
We will name our enemy — radical Islamic terrorism. And we will defeat it. https://t.co/Z7YTgUg3AA
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 22, 2016
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) March 22, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded, and all the people of Belgium. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 22, 2016
Full Sanders statement on attacks in Belgium: pic.twitter.com/61Pn71tCAd
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 22, 2016
— Fifth Harmony (@FifthHarmony) March 22, 2016
— NBC News Pictures (@NBCNewsPictures) March 22, 2016
Dubai's Burj Khalifa, tallest building in world, is lit with colors of Belgian flag in solidarity with Brussels. pic.twitter.com/3uDNx3T6WP
— Micah Grimes (@MicahGrimes) March 22, 2016
— CNBC (@CNBC) March 22, 2016