Social media used as key tool in wake of terrorist attack

Public services in Manchester used social media platforms throughout the night to keep the public informed about the Manchester bombing.

Manchester City Council electronic display board Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

The death toll from last night’s terrorist attack on a pop concert – which Greater Manchester Police said was carried out by a single attacker – currently stands at 22.

Information and advice to those affected by the incident at the Manchester Arena was constantly updated by the force on its Twitter account, @gmpolice.

Manchester City Council’s social media operation also sprang into action around midnight, as the scale of the carnage began to emerge. It is tweeting from @ManCityCouncil.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is an absolutely horrifying incident and our thoughts are with everyone affected, especially those who have lost loved ones or been injured and traumatised.

“We give heartfelt thanks to our emergency services for their response and council staff are doing all they can to support.”

The police’s first tweet after the incident came before midnight, alerting citizens to reports of an incident, and advising people to stay away from the area.

Since then, it has posted and retweeted about 20 times, also adding longer statements on the incident as .jpg files.

Early in the morning, the city council advised the public to follow the police Twitter account for updates, but it has retweeted from Manchester Metrolink about the impact on transport.

This morning, it let parents know that all school buses would operate as normal this morning.

The council has also launched an book of condolence on its website for members of the public to sign.

Newly elected mayor Andy Burnham also tweeted last night, expressing sympathy with the victims of the attack, and praising the response of emergency services.

The police were also active on Facebook, posting a number of updates on that platform as details emerged.

Manchester City Council’s website outlines procedures for major emergencies in the city centre.

It lists trusted social media accounts including the police, fire and ambulance services and electronic display boards across the city centre among designated media for transmitting updates.

Organically, members of the public also offered beds for the night to those impacted directly by the tragedy, using the #RoomForManchester hashtag.

Colin Marrs

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