BY GARRY PIERRE-PIERRE*
IPS NEWS AGENCY
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — On Tuesday, Jan. 12, a small story from the Associated Press came across the wires that an earthquake had hit Haiti. Almost instantly, phones began to ring as Haitian Americans started calling each other to find out if there was more to this story.
While there was not much information available at the time, what was clear was that a magnitude 7.0 quake was not good. The aftermath, everyone feared, would be catastrophic.
So while people called each other on the phone and listened to Haitian radio, they began to circulate words through Facebook and other social networks.
The use of social networks as a major means of communication is a first for Haitians, who historically have relied on radio and word of mouth as the best source of information. But the earthquake knocked out all communications out of Haiti, and for a couple of days, Facebook, Twitter and Hi5 were the place for millions of Haitians to congregate.