Twitter has been used to give a background look into operating rooms, aid election processes and help organizations spread their causes. This past weekend, in Johannesburg, South Africa, it helped to save a life.
According to Ars Technica, carjacking is a common crime in the country, with over 10,000 such incidents cited in the past year alone. Sunday found another victim, as a man hijacked and stuffed into the trunk of his captor’s car. However, in a series of fortunate events, the man was able to help himself. He memorized the license plate of the car and immediately texted his girlfriend the situation. She in turn, immediately tweeted the incident to all of her followers, including @pigspotter , a private security force with 10,000-plus followers. Included in these 10,000 were a large number of private security forces, including K9 Security, who was eventually able to visually identify the car, 150 miles away from where the man was taken.
Increasingly we see that Twitter is used to bring news and information to a vast majority of people quickly and effectively. When Rick Santorum dropped out of the race for the Republican National Candidate, Twitter users were aware up to ten minutes before the official press conference could confirm the news.
Is this rise in quick communication good or bad? True, information is available at a speed more timely than ever before, but inaccuracies often occur and false twitter rumors circulate just as quickly as true news stories. However, while many joke about situations in which people should alert the proper authorities in an emergency before posting to a social site, in cases such as the one above where the authorities may not be the most reliable outlet, the use of Twitter helped to resolve a very timely incident.