Future Tense

How Parisians Are Using Twitter Hashtags to Keep Each Other Safe

paris shooting.
The scene outside a restaurant after a shooting in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015.

Photo by Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

As a spate of terror attacks rocked Paris on Friday night, people took to Twitter to express solidarity and offer safe haven to those in need. Here’s some brief context on that from our French sister site, Slate.fr:

Internet users are mobilizing on Twitter via the hashtag #porteouverte (open door) to welcome those who are still outside and potentially in danger. In the 10th and 11th arrondissements, where three different shooting attacks took place, residents are tweeting their addresses, saying that people are welcome there, given that gunshots are still being heard in the streets and police have not yet confirmed that the attackers have been arrested.

#PorteOuverte was among the top trending hashtags on Twitter late Friday, and fast gaining momentum, with hundreds of new tweets appearing every few minutes. But as #PorteOuverte also morphed into a rallying cry, Twitter users expressed concern that its proliferation might be making it less useful to those who actually needed help. “Please stop tweeting under this hashtag telling them to look at it,” one person wrote. “It’s harder to find somewhere safe when you’re clogging it.”

Others worried that people broadcasting their home addresses publicly might unwittingly be putting themselves at risk.

Most Twitter users currently opening their residences up as shelters appear to be using a combination of #PorteOuverte and “DM”—Twitter shorthand for “direct message”—in their tweets. For example: “#PorteOuverte with hot food and tea in 15th arrondissement if you need safety please DM.” Those seeking assistance can sift through the noise by searching both the hashtag and “DM” on Twitter’s site.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the Paris attacks.