Tragedy Brings First Successful Cyber Campaign in Iran
|August 22, 2012|
Just before 5PM local time on August 11, 2012, two large earthquakes with respective magnitudes of 6.4 and 6.3 hit the northeastern region of Iran within eleven minutes, causing a continuous string of aftershocks and over 300 deaths.
In response to the poor coverage of the tragedy by Iranian State-sponsored television, citizens and lawmakers swiftly organized search-and-rescue groups via Facebook. The speed of this cyber campaign fostered an effective citizen-based recovery effort, mobilizing volunteers from the capital of Tehran to the provincial capital of Tabriz. Volunteers gathered and distributed water, blankets, sandals and food. Many who were buried under ground during the first day were able to survive due to these groups of independent citizens.
Other Iranians from across the country used Facebook to publicize the efforts of the Red Cross, encouraging thousands of Iranians to donate blood.
Many Iranians living abroad have cited the Facebook pages of journalists on the ground to be the best and most up-to-date coverage of the crisis. However, due to sanctions, many Iranian expats faced problems when initially attempting to send relief money to Iran.
More than 3,000 Iranians have been injured and the death toll has exceeded 300 people.