How they got it wrong with Nepal earthquake posts on social media

  • Neha Mahajan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 27, 2015 11:43 IST

The ripples of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal were also felt in the virtual world, where some were left red-faced thanks to their insensitive promos and embarrassing posts on social media.

From eyewear e-tailer Lenskart, which yanked a promo that called on users to "shake it off like this earthquake", to BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, who deleted an embarrassing tweet, there were folks who reacted without thinking and paid the price.

The quake killed 2,200 people and affected 29 of Nepal's 75 districts. The tremors were felt in north and east India too. As soon as the tragedy struck, social media was abuzz with people posting pictures and information and praying for those affected.

However, the disaster also reflected the negative aspects of e-tailing and social media. From politicians to brands, everyone tried to cash in but they were slammed for their insensitivity.

Lenskart apologised for its SMS promo that referred to the earthquake in "poor taste" and said it had put in place safeguards to ensure it was never repeated.

Another Indian online shopping site, American Swan, sent out a SMS promo for an "earth shattering offer" on its line of clothing and fashion accessories:

News aggregator ScoopWhoop posted a listicle titled “16 Thoughts That Went Through Everyone's Mind When The Earthquake Happened” that included several frivolous entries. Later, ScoopWhoop editor-in-chief Sriparna realised the gravity of the situation and

issued an apology

that said “Sorry, We Messed Up”. She also offered to donate a month’s salary to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Soon after the quake, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted: "I was watching the Ashutosh episode on Aajtak..suddenly everything started took some time to realise that it was #earthquake".”

Though he deleted the tweet, screengrabs of it did the rounds and Patra apologized. “Sorry if I hurt anyone with one of my Tweets ..I was really watching TV & just narrated it as it was ..Not being Insensitive at All #Pray!!” he posted.

If you thought you had seen enough, the Twitterati proved you wrong. A series of tweets linking the quake to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's visit to the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand, and the Narendra Modi government did the rounds too.

And to the add to the mess, Indian TV news channels pulled videos of other countries from social media and used them in their coverage of the quake of Nepal.

Video from Middle East that's been used by Indian TV channels in coverage of Nepal quake.

Posted by Rezaul Hasan Laskar on Saturday, April 25, 2015

These attempts by business firms and some sections of the media to capitalise on the Nepal quake showed social media at its worst. It also highlighted one issue - how far can people go to gain attention even during the most difficult of times?

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