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Twitter and (Real) Pirates: Social Media for a Cause

Social media has many raisons d’être—to advertise, to entertain, to build relationships with other people—and every now and then there’s an opportunity to use it for a greater good, whether to raise money for a great cause or to help a fella out. This is one of those opportunities.

Still from a video released by Moore's captors while he was held hostage.

Still from a video released by Moore’s captors while he was held hostage.

In January 2012, American novelist and journalist Michael Scott Moore, author of the 2011 book Sweetness and Blood (a history of surfing) was kidnapped by pirates in Somalia while doing research for a book on piracy. He was held for 2 years and 8 months before his captors released him in September 2014 in exchange for a $1.6 million ransom. Everyone—including me—was asked to keep quiet about the kidnapping. Don’t blog, don’t tweet, don’t post about it to Facebook because the more press his case receives, the more valuable the pirates will think he is, and the more money they’ll seek in exchange for his release. But I felt helpless. Here was this California native, a writer friend of several of my writer friends and a guy just a few months older than me, being held hostage in Somalia, and there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t get any information about whether someone was collecting money, and I couldn’t use my social networks to raise money toward his ransom. All I could do was check the Somalia Report every couple of months for updates (there weren’t many), and hope he eventually made it out alive.

He did. Moore is back in Berlin where he’s been living since 2005, and he has a favor to ask. He’s working on a story about his ordeal (I don’t know about you, but I’m dying to read it), and he needs Twitter followers. Help me help him. Follow him on Twitter @michaelsctmoore and ask others to follow him as well. Use the #FF (follow Friday) hashtag to ask your Twitter followers to follow him this Friday. Post to Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn about him. And be sure to check out his blog, Radio Free Mike. It’s the least we can do. Really.

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