4 ways big tech companies helped out during the Paris attacks

During times of unrest and tragedy, we find that large companies often use their resources to help out those that need it. This past weekend was no different, during the Paris attack and in the days that followed these large tech companies did what they could to assist the people of Paris and those around the world.

Google, Verizon, Sprint and Skype allow free calls to Paris

Google allowed free calls to Paris using it’s telecommunication service Hangouts immediately after the tragic incident took place this past weekend. It allowed users to make free international calls to Paris in the event that people needed to contact loved ones, friends, or relatives.

Google has used Hangouts as a tool to help people before: during the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, it made calls to Nepal free of charge and continues to use this method of help after all tragic incidents. This year, during the Paris Attacks a few other tech companies offered their service with Verizon, Sprint and Skype following in Google’s footsteps.

Uber disables Surge pricing

We all know Uber to be at the forefront of offering its services during times of need. Earlier in November when a pedestrian bridge collapsed, it immediately offered free Uber rides in Sandton to help ease the traffic and calm the situation. After the Paris attacks, it disabled its Dynamic/Surge pricing (Surge pricing is usually implemented when demand increases) in order to make it more affordable for people to get around during the unrest.

Uber surge pircing paris

Facebook and Safety Check

Facebook safety check

After the Tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011, Facebook realised that it was in a unique position that allowed it to help victims and family members find and communicate with each other after a natural disaster.

Facebook’s Safety Check sends all users who are in the affected area a notification to ask if they are safe — once they answer the question a post will go out to your news feed letting everyone know you are okay.

Facebook has used Safety Check during the 2015 Paris Attacks, marking it as the first time the tech giant used it for something other than a natural disaster. The social networking giant came in for a fair amount of flack for doing so in Paris and not during other violent incidents, but CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook had changed its policy to include human disasters from here on out.

Twitter uses #PorteOuverte (Open Door) together with Airbnb


During disasters of any kind, Twitter usually becomes the fastest and most convenient way for people to find information using a series of hashtags associated with the event. During the 2015 Paris attacks, people used the hashtag #PorteOuverte to allow other people to know that they are willing to let them stay with them or that they need a place to stay.

Together with the hash-tag, Airbnb urged its members to also offer their homes to those who have been stranded and in need of a place to stay.



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