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article imageTwitter, Facebook introduce tools to aid Paris attack victims

By Megan Hamilton     Nov 15, 2015 in Technology
Paris - In the aftermath of the brutal massacre that has killed at least 129 people in Paris, Twitter, Facebook, and Google have jumped in with tools that can help people receive news and updates on friends and relatives residing there.
Facebook has activated its Safety Check tool, automatically messaging users in the area to ask if they are safe, and Twitter's news-curation tab "Moments" featured images, videos, and tweets from news media and bystanders showing snippets of the tragic aftermath, in what has become France's worst-ever terrorist attack, The International Business Times (IBT) notes.
Facebook has activated Safety Check five times in the last year, and it was created to help in times of crisis, said spokeswoman Anna Richardson White, per The New York Times. This is the first time it was activated for something of this nature, she said.
"People turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates, which is why we created Safety Check and why we have activated it for people in Paris," she said. White didn't have the numbers as to how many people have used the tool, but she said people were still using it Saturday.
The feature is activated by Facebook's "social good" team, which builds features that help people in crisis, The Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says the social network was spurred to action after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.
And on Friday night, the Twitter hashtag #PorteOuverte (open door), alerted victims to places where they could seek shelter if needed. One million tweets with the hashtag appeared in a span of 10 hours, Twitter spokesman Christopher Abboud said on Saturday.
Parents and other loved ones are also using the hashtag #rechercheParis, posting photos and details of the missing, hoping to find their missing children, but many are feared to be among the dead, The New York Post reports.
"We are looking for Marie who was at the Bataclan, we have no news," Clara Regrigny, a French national tweeted, searching for her friend. Hours later, an update confirmed her fears. "The search is over, I have no words, only tears. Marie and Mathias have both left us," she tweeted Saturday.
The Post notes that that as number of deaths rises, #rechercheParis is becoming a makeshift memorial.
Hoping to find information on his daughter Lola, Georges Salines looked to Twitter on Friday. Lola was at the Bataclan.
"Now news of my daughter Lola, who was at the Bataclan. Unreachable emergency number." All through the night, he tweeted. Then Saturday afternoon he received news he hoped he'd never hear.
"I have just had confirmation of the death of Lola #rechercheParis thanks to all who helped us today."
Google also stepped in, saying international calls to France on its Hangouts app will be free throughout the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reports. The calls can be made on Android phones and iPhones.
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