Cell phones, Twitter offer vital channels as another mass shooting unfolds


Amid horrific chaos, students sent messages of love—along with crucial
information about the shootings unfolding in their Florida high school.

A gunman, believed to be former student Nikolas Cruz, pulled a fire alarm
Wednesday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School before opening
fire on students evacuating the building. Seventeen people were killed, and
others remain in hospital care.

As school and government officials tried to gauge the situation and offer
accurate information to the public, students and parents turned to
technology to contact loved ones and share their raw emotions. Cell phones
proved a particularly crucial tool.


The New York Times
wrote
:

Like many school districts, Broward County’s allows high school students to
bring cellphones to school, so long as they don’t interfere with class
work. On Wednesday, many students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
held onto their phones for dear life as a 19-year-old gunman,
Nikolas Cruz, stalked the grounds and
fatally shot 17 people. They used them to keep their terrified parents informed about what was
happening. And they used them to keep a visual record of an awful crime.

Students texted their parents and one another to give updates and send
messages of love.


The Washington Post
reported
:

[Mackenzie Hill] texted a photo to her parents, showing her hiding under a
desk, tears falling down her face.

“I love you guys so much,” she texted, saying this could be the last time
she speaks with them. Above all else, Mackenzie thought about her twin
sister, a floor below her, back in the AP Psychology classroom. The shooter
was on her floor, Meghan texted her.


“I love you,” Meghan wrote in text messages that Mackenzie would later
delete, to erase all memories of the nightmare. “Please be safe.”

Video of the scene made its way onto Twitter and other platforms as
students shared their fear.

The New York Times
continued:

Some of the alarming videos of the mass shooting were passed around via
text message, while others quickly made their way to Twitter, where they
triggered “sensitive material” warnings.

One video showed officers with guns drawn, rushing into a classroom full of
cowering students. The officers told students to put up their hands. One
officer bellowed: “Put your phones away! Put your phones away!”

A Twitter account for the Broward County sheriff asked the public to stay
away from the scene:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The account told concerned readers to follow its tweets for updates:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It also tweeted statements from Sheriff Scott Israel:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It boosted the message from the FBI asking that any video captured by
students or staff on mobile devices be uploaded:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

An official Twitter account for Broward County schools shared the news:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It continued to offer updates throughout the day:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Some tweeted their distress at being unable to reach loved ones and
friends:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

CNN shared the story of a concerned parent looking for her child:

“This is Jamie Guttenberg a student a Stoneman Douglas High. If you see her
please have her call her parents ASAP. Praying for all of the families and
kids,” Michelle Wiseman Kredi posted on Facebook.

Florida
Gov. Rick Scott
tweeted his knowledge of the situation in English and Spanish:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

He also tagged other agencies that were responding to the situation,
demonstrating a coordinated response:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Some attempted to get Twitter to take down accounts spreading
misinformation:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

[FREE DOWNLOAD: 13 tips for preparing for a crisis]

Given that 30 mass shootings (four or more victims)
have occurred in the first 45 days of 2018—following 346 mass shootings last year—a crisis response plan that goes
beyond PR and reputational damage seems wise. How has your organization
prepared for the unthinkable?

 



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