Haiti Earthquake Aid Gets Big on Facebook

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By Sara Inés Calderón Comment

By now most people know that a catastrophic 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti Tuesday. The reason people know is partly due to the ubiquity of Haiti-related posts, status updates and news stories on Facebook in the past few days. And now there’s a corresponding surge of interest in disaster relief sweeping the site.

Here’s a sample of what must be millions of results when you search Facebook for “haiti”:

Everyone seems to be getting in a word about Haiti on Facebook — from President Barack Obama to The New York Times to the Red Cross and Catholic Relief Services (Haiti is a largely Catholic country). Many of the updates individuals are posting every second on the service are soliciting donations to help the victims.

As with other disaster charities, it’s always a good policy to double-check which of these is reputable. Ultimately the best thing you can do to sort through them all is either use a search engine to confirm whether they are legitimate or rely on traditional aid organizations like the Red Cross or traditional media that have compiled lists of quality charities.

Haiti, which shares half an island with its neighbor the Dominican Republic, is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and this earthquake has done heavy damage to a Caribbean country that was poor to begin with and whose infrastructure was already incredibly lacking. The government currently estimates that the quake has killed more than 100,000 people.

The Causes application on Facebook joined in the effort via Oxfam America and had raised more than $10,000 dollars by midday Wednesday.

Two other fundraising campaigns appear to have gotten big on Facebook (and Twitter), both use texting to add the donation to your phone bill, from the Red Cross and Haitian musician Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti organization. Both organizations are soliciting donations via text messages adding either $10 or $5 to your phone bill.

Two Facebook groups have also been growing by leaps and bounds since Tuesday — Haitian Earthquake Relief and Haiti Needs Us, And We Need Haiti — where members share prayers, news, links to charity and other ways people can help. The aforementioned text-driven fundraisers are also heavily mentioned here, along with links to other charities.