How night of terror in Paris unfolded through social media

14 Nov 2015

It was through a social media lens that the horror unfolded, but through which the humanity and resilience of Parisians was witnessed

It will be a night that no one will ever forget and as Paris awoke to the reality that more than 120 people are dead following coordinated terrorist attacks, it was largely through a social media lens that the horror unfolded, but also through which the humanity and resilience of Parisians was witnessed.

Even hours after the attacks, the enormity of what happened last night in France is difficult to fathom. France’s borders are closed for the first time in decades, the whole country is under curfew and the world is waking up to the difficult news that 120 people – including almost 100 hostages attending a rock concert at a club called Bataclan – are dead. Around 100 additional people are understood to have been wounded in the attacks.

Just as how the awful events of 11 September 2001 had been burned into our minds forever through the glare of a TV screen, for many the tragedy of the attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 unfolded through social media feeds as well as TV.

In what is the worst violence to have hit Paris since World War II many initially learned through Twitter that during a friendly football match between France and Germany there were two suicide attacks and a bombing near the Stade de France stadium as well as shootings at restaurants and a massacre during a concert at a music venue.

Harrowing reports of shootings and hostages being systematically massacred soon followed as the world watched on in disbelief. Innocent revellers attending a concert by heavy metal band Eagles of Death Metal became hostages.    

As details of what happened were officially confirmed, ordinary Parisians created a hashtag #PorteOuverte offering shelter to people who now found themselves on the streets in a city in lockdown. Parisian taxi drivers also began offering free transport to get people home safely.

For its part, social media site Facebook acted swiftly to provide a safety check service for users in and around Paris to notify friends and let them know they were safe and well. The tool also lets you know which of the people you’re connected to may be in Paris right now.


How Twitter reacted to the attacks in Paris

Most of the unfolding situation was captured in a number of hashtags, including #ParisAttacks and #PrayforParis. Here is a selection of tweets that captured the situation overnight:













Paris image at top via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years