Twitter’s role for good during a crisis

On Friday evening at around 10.30 at night, a terrible tragedy occurred in Glasgow. A police helicopter crashed into the Clutha pub on the clydeside, killing the crew of three, and (at the time of writing) six others inside the building.

Where did I hear about this. On Twitter.

To be more specific, I saw a friend RT this update from Wesley Shearer (@scotscribbler)


Wesley’s later tweet just a few minutes later attracted even more RT’s and his attached picture became the “iconic view” of the whole incident for those first few hours, quickly used by various newspaper and televisions.



There are some people who don’t get social media. They might never use Twitter or wonder why these “young people” share things about their lives. They might never get it and that’s fine. But for others, Wesley was a lifeline to real-time information on Friday night – live reporting from the scene, providing accurate (at times harrowing) updates on what was happening, with personal very poignant tweets that touched everyone tracking them. He wasn’t looking for attention, he was simply doing what he felt was right – keeping people updated.

Wesley’s tweet updates were quickly followed by many people advising things like “Sky News Now”, and other advice to friends and family to turn on the mainstream media to get the details… but until then, Wesley WAS the news. His photograph was later used by news outlets across the world including ABC news in America, The Telegraph and ITV News (all respectfully asking his permission to use the image).

Twitter continued to be a hive of activity into the early hours of Saturday morning, and over the weekend, people using it to share, to help, to grieve and to console. It’s at times like this that we see the best in people, with all but a few responding and acting as responsible and caring human beings.

Unfortunately, as you’ll get in any large group of people… there were some idiots. It’s not Twitter’s fault – idiots will always be idiots, and use whatever tool gives them the attention they crave.

I’ll not name them, or give you examples, I don’t believe that any of them deserve the mention, but unfortunately, in the days and weeks to come, I’m certain that media attention will focus on some of these idiots, focussing on the negative minority, and forgetting the positive stories.

Stories about how Glaswegians rallied on Twitter to encourage blood donation, how news quickly spread that local taxi drivers were offering services free of charge to help the families affected, how Glasgow actor Colin McCreadie and other local stars, together with local businesses are right now working out (on Twitter) details of a benefit gig… and stories from ordinary people like Wesley Shearer (@scotscribbler).

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