France has been left reeling and in a state of emergency following the deadliest terrorist attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings. Paris is a multicultural captital and a huge tourism hub, meaning people from all around the world were there last night. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at how the technology world reacted to the tragedy to put families minds at rest where possible.
Twitter – #PorteOuverte
Twitter has perhaps had the most heart-warming and uplifting effect on the events in Paris, though not directly themselves. Showing the sheer power of social media, the hashtag #PorteOuverte began trending almost immediately after the attacks.
The hashtag which means “open door” in French, spread on Twitter as a state of emergency was announced, meaning people simply had to get off the streets. The porte ouverte announcement was Parisians inviting people in need to seek refuge in their homes. It has also been used to offer refuge for those who may be stranded internationally due to flight cancellations.
10 of us at mine in the 6th, DM or tweet me if you need #PorteOuverte
— Liam Alcock (@jellywellywoowa) November 13, 2015
— Quentin Cogitore (@QuentinCogitore) November 14, 2015
This trend truly shows the good of human nature shining through the darkest abilities of man.
A couple of hours after the Paris attacks, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, condemned the attacks, stating “violence like this has no place in any city or country in the world”. In the same post, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook Safety Check had been activated for Paris.
Launched in October 2014, Safety Check allows users to mark themselves as safe, search friends in the area and mark their friends as safe. For people in the area, the Facebook app will send a push-notification to users, prompting them to let friends know that they’re safe. This is the modern day social media powered equivalent of calling an embassy for updates.
This is the fifth time Safety Check has been activated in 2015, including the Nepal earthquake and Chilean earthquake in April and September respectively. It is the first time Safety Check has been activated for a non-natural event.
As getting in touch with loved ones is a priority following attacks such as those seen in Paris, Google removed one barrier to doing so. Also only a few hours after the attacks, via their Twitter account, Google announced free international calls to France via Google Hangouts.
While Samsung haven’t done anything specifically, they are directly responsible for saving one life in the Paris attacks. Speaking in French below, the man stated he would have been hit in the head were it not for his Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge taking the hit. The man witnessed a terrorist near the Stade de France activating an explosive device, bursting into flames. This knocked the man to the ground, with the events leaving the man with a grazed ribcage and injured foot. Speaking to news reporters, the man stated that his head would have been “in pieces” were it not for his handset.
Initially reports emerged that Uber had been suspended in Paris, but it then emerged demand had simply outweighed supply. Uber issued a notification to its customers stating “Attacks are underway in Paris and its surroundings. The Prefecture of Police of Paris has asked that you stay safely inside. Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. Nearly all the drivers are busy. Uber France”. It is unclear if Uber drivers were involved in the “open door” hashtag or not, but reports on Twitter suggest that Parisian Taxi drivers were offers free rides to people to evacuate them from the epicentre of the Paris attacks.
Our thoughts are with the people of Paris.