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There’s a famous Twitter story about how an American student saved his own life with a one word tweet.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz (@Claire) tells the story of James Buck who was photographing a demonstration against the Egyptian government during the Arab spring when he was arrested by security forces.

Luckily for him, they forget to take his mobile phone allowing him to send one of the shortest but most historic Tweets since the medium was created, the one word:


His friends back home at Berkely College saw the tweet and told the Dean who got onto the American consulate in Cairo.

Within a matter of hours, James was released from custody, and sent out another one word Tweet:


Social media as a kidnap alarm

Now there’s another way that Twitter can save lives.

Civil Rights Defenders (@crdefenders) have just announced the Natalia Project, named after Natalia Estemirova, a leading, human rights defender in the North Caucasus, who was brutally kidnapped and murdered within 24 hours of being abducted. Her tragic death could have been prevented had the correct authorities been made aware as soon as she had been kidnapped.

The project involves distributing personal alarm bracelets to human rights’ workers.

The bracelets are similar to the sort of GPS tag which offenders are required to work.




If the tag is activated or forcibly broken, the bracelet automatically communicates the exact location of the incident via social media.

Supporters of the project sign up to monitor the alarms via Twitter and can then notify authorities and publicise the abudction or assault, putting public pressure on the assailants/relevant governments.

Almost instantly, an individual human rights’ worker becomes connected to the whole world.

For the organisations who use these bracelets, it’s easy to see their value as a campaigning and awareness raising tool as well as protecting the safety of workers on the front line.

The YouTube video below provides full details:


If you’d like to develop your tweeting skills, check out my online Twitter coaching service which includes an individualised profile of your Twitter style.

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