“@usairforce find a way to let Doctors without Borders planes land in Haiti: http://bit.ly/8hYZOKTHE most effective at this,” U.S. television host Ann Curry tweeted.
The tweet went out on Jan. 18, 2010, six days after a powerful earthquake killed and displaced tens of thousands of Haitians. Within a few hours of Curry’s tweet, the first Doctors Without Borders flight touched down, with another scheduled to land in Port-au-Prince.
The story, according to Doctors Without Borders Communications Director Jason Cone, shows that Twitter offers an “important tool for exerting leverage” on governments and other stakeholders targeted by the aid group’s communications, provided advanced work has been performed to determine their @handles and understand their behavior on the social media platform.
Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.