Sixty million people received information about the West Ebola Virus, through Twitter. This happened in the 3 days before the official announcement came.
Through Twitter almost 1500 messages were shared concerning the Ebola outbreak that was underway in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Volunteers and citizens residing in and around the affected areas were some of the first to send out warning messages and information about the development of the disease.
Investigators at New York’s Columbia University for Nursing, analyzed about 42.000 tweets regarding Ebola. Between July 24 and the 1’th of August these messages carried news between Africa and the rest of the world , delivering information days ahead of news agencies and official channels .
In this crucial week the first case of an American infected with the virus was reported, Nigeria experienced its first cases, and Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency.
Volunteers for Unicef or other NGO’s sometimes gave progress reports based on what they heard or seen from different locations. This made it possible for companies to prepare aid at a faster speed.
This is not the first time Twitter has been proven useful in sending information. During the protests in Istanbul and other cities in turkey, twitter was used to spread news of police brutality or Human Rights violations. Twitter was so effective in this venture that Turkey’s Prime Minister banned the use of it and made efforts to block it on Turkish IP’s.
Information gathering is now easier than ever, with the use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, videos and news about events from all over the world arrive to us, before any journalist has time to even get to the scene.
The Ebola Epidemic is still ongoing, foreign aid from governments and NGO’s has helped reduce mortality in some areas, but even now 57-59 percent of hospitalized cases result in death.
The current Epidemic is the most widespread in history, it began in Guinea in 2013 and not far after had reached Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Due to various people leaving the African Continent at the time, cases of Ebola have reached as far as Spain, Central Europe and the U.S.A. The virus is transferred through direct contact and symptoms can appear in a timeframe ranging from 2 days to there weeks.
Image Source: phys.org