Iran’s heavily constricted social media has once again proved its worth. Placed under severe restrictions after protestors used Facebook as a rallying ground after the disputed verdict of the 2009 elections, it has now become an important source of help for the earthquake-hit people of northwestern Iran. In the aftermath of the August 11 quake, which left over 300 injured and thousands homeless, journalists—most of them based in Iran—initiated a Facebook group, Ahar Earthquake, to gather reliable news about the tragedy and source funds for victims.
“The main problem now is making water and food available,” Sasan Aghaei, an independent journalist wrote in a post. Existing Facebook groups like Female Equals Male also stepped in. It encouraged followers to head to blood-donation stations across Iran. “I work for a blood-transfusion centre in Tehran and I can say it was the first time that I have ever seen people being so eager to donate blood. The group has always been us, pushing, advertising and asking people to do so,” reads a post.
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