Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti, a Twitter Hoax or Two, and Giving Wisely

"Twitter hoax spreads rumors of airlines' free flights to Haiti"
CNN (January 14, 2010)

"Twitter was buzzing Thursday morning with news that several airlines are flying doctors and nurses to Haiti free of charge to help with relief efforts there in the wake of Tuesday's devastating earthquake.

"The only problem: The rumors are false, an American Airlines spokesman says.

" 'Last night's hoax on Twitter about American and JetBlue flying doctors and nurses to Haiti for free was just that -- a hoax. We don't know who is responsible, but it's a very low thing to do,' airline spokesman Tim Smith said in e-mails sent Thursday.

"Twitter users also circulated a rumor that UPS would ship for free any package under 50 lbs. to Haiti. In a blog post Wednesday on UPS's Web site, a spokeswoman debunked the rumor and said that destruction of Haiti's roads and communications networks 'means our own shipping services to Haiti are on hold.'

"UPS is donating $1 million to help the people of Haiti through relief agencies, she said...."

Good News: There are A Whole Lot of Good Folks Trying to Help

Today's news was full of stories of people in Haiti making do with what they had to dig survivors out of buildings and find medical help for the injured.

Help from overseas - including America - is either there or on its way.

And people who are too far away to help directly are sending money. And yes: that can help. Ships and aircraft need fuel to operate, and supplies aren't free. The hippie dream of everything being free - and using daddy's credit card when the going got hairy - may feel good. The fact is, though, that it takes effort to produce goods and services. And people who make that effort need to be rewarded.

Okay. That's the good news: There are lots of good people, helping.

The Gospel According to Pat Robertson and a Twitter Hoax

Then, there are clueless wonders like pastor Pat "Pact With the Devil" Robertson and his opinion that the Haitians had it coming.

And, the anonymous person or persons who started a rumor on Twitter, about free transportation to Haiti.

I've discussed Robertson's reality before.

The problem with the Twitter rumor(s), as I see it, is that they have a potential for distracting people from efforts that actually might do some good. And, they tend - in my opinion - to make people less willing to cooperate with legitimate relief efforts.

You've heard this hundreds - maybe thousands - of times before, but I'll repeat the obvious. Don't give on impulse. Find out if the "charity" you're giving to actually exists.

I don't like to say this, but it may be safer to go with high-profile outfits like the Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services or Salvation Army. They've been around for years. Decades. They have a track record of converting donations to something besides administrative overhead.

'Nuff said.

Related posts:


Brigid said...

And one last appearance by the friendly neighborhood proofreader before the 14th becomes the 15th.

"are to far away"

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


[with an obligatory slap of the forehead]

Thanks! Got it!

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