Henan floods: how Big Tech is helping victims with crowdsourced docs and short videos
- A viral spreadsheet on Tencent Docs was updated more than 20,000 times in 24 hours with information for victims, such as where to seek refuge
- Short-video platforms Douyin and Kuaishou have also become sources of information for people seeking help as other tech giants offer their own aid
One of the platforms gaining the most attention is Tencent Docs, the social media giant’s answer to Google Docs, which is blocked in China. A spreadsheet on the platform created by a user named Manto on Tuesday night had gone viral by the following day, becoming a destination for crowdsourced information about people who need help and where they can seek it.
Manto’s spreadsheet, which was not created from a template, started out as a simple list of contact information for people who had been trapped by heavy rainfall and were calling for help. Other volunteer users quickly joined to help verify the information in the spreadsheet and then updated it with the contact information of rescue teams.
As more volunteers contributed, the spreadsheet became populated with even more helpful information: a list of safe havens where victims could seek refuge, guidelines for pregnant women about to give birth, locations where people could charge their smartphones, and where to get psychological counselling.
Once victims received help and were transferred to a safe location, their information was crossed out. Collaborators also created an English tab within the spreadsheet for people who do not speak Chinese.
Other internet platforms have also been quick to offer their own solutions to help users provide information related to the flood.
Heroes emerge amid devastating China floods
The Douyin help channel asks users to submit information such as name, contact information, location and the type of help they need. Users can upload videos and photos, as well.
Dahe Daily, a state-owned newspaper in Henan capital Zhengzhou, started an ongoing live-streaming session on the platform showing the progress of the rescue process.
Both Douyin and Kuaishou include a variety of content with the latest updates about the flooded areas, including informative videos about where to get food and clean drinking water.
Meituan has also suspended charges for its power bank sharing stations, allowing users to pick up a power bank for free to charge their devices. The company pledged to subsidise hotels listed on its platform that are offering help to victims, as well.
The rush to help from China’s Big Tech companies comes as the sector is under tight scrutiny by both Beijing and society at large. Tech firms have been accused of putting profits before social responsibility.
Individually, South China Morning Post owner Alibaba announced a 100 million yuan donation. Its fintech affiliate Ant Group also said it would give 100 million yuan to the province, and the philanthropic foundation of both companies’ founder Jack Ma pledged 50 million yuan.
Tencent, ByteDance, Meituan and discount e-commerce company Pinduoduo also said they were each giving 100 million yuan to relief efforts, according to separate company statements on Wednesday.