Yesterday, a suicide bomber strode into Moscow's busiest airport and detonated an explosion that killed dozens of people and injured scores of others. In the frenetic aftermath, Russian officials, citizens, and media outlets depended on two unlikely sources for information: Twitter and YouTube.
The microblogging and video services were essential in keeping the public informed in real-time, reports Haaretz. "Russian television stations gave up all pretext of being the main source of information, broadcasting video footage from the airport clearly marked YouTube and TwitVid," the Israeli newspaper said Tuesday. "Twitter turned into Russia's main news agency, not only in terms of getting out reports from the event itself, but also in terms of bringing information from official sources."
Indeed, the videos uploaded online became the go-to source for news outlets around the globe including the New York Times. One video, which captured the smoke-filled corridors and body-strewn floors of Domodedovo airport, has been viewed close to 2.5 million times since yesterday, and was available hours before most television channels picked it up.
Twitter, in particular, helped cut through the disarray following the attack. For example, according to Haaretz, taxi drivers began charging "20 times the usual fare" for trips to and from the airport. Users took to Twitter to call out this corrupt fare hiking, and some even organized free rides for those in need.
And when the announcement came that the ticket price via train from Domodedovo airport to Moscow would be waived, the news first arrived on Twitter--40 minutes before it was reported on television.