How the Paris attacks unfolded on social media

As news of multiple attacks in Paris broke on Friday night, social media was the place where millions of people around the world first heard about it.

Eyewitnesses logged onto their social networks to warn others about what was happening. It was an instinctive human reaction to tell others about the violence. Each word, image and video posted to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram tell their own story. Many posted without the realisation that words written in seconds would have a legacy.

The order of events isn't different from other media reports, but to see it unfold online is to see the emotional and personal effect on ordinary people. Below is the story of how the events of Friday 13 November unfolded on social media, minutes after each attack (all times local).

21:20 Stade de France

Media around the world reported that the first explosion happened at around this time near the Stade de France, where a friendly football match between Germany and France was taking place. On social media, it was reported more precisely to be a minute earlier. At 21:19 German twitter user Johannes Muller was one of the first to write about the explosion. He asked the account of the German national football team if there had been an explosion. "Was it a bomb or was it harmless?" he tweeted.

Image copyright Johannes Muller/Twitter
Image caption Translation: "Explosion in the Stade de France? Was it a bomb or was it harmless? Explosion today here in France, in the stadium."

21:25 Gunfire at Le Carillon bar, Rue Alibert and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, Rue Bichat

The first reports of gunfire came from Le Carillon bar, at 18 Rue Alibert. Witnesses initially thought a firecracker had gone off until people realised that a masked man was opening fire with a semi-automatic gun.

One of the first people to live tweet from the scene was Twitter user @Pierre75010. He snapped a picture of a chaotic scene along with the words "Shooting at the Carillon."

@Pierre75010 proceeded to live tweet from outside the restaurant throughout the night. Meanwhile as the attacker crossed the road and turned his gun on Cambodian restaurant Le Petit Cambodge, a man named Vincent Berthezene posted this update:

Image caption Translation: "Shots from a Kalashnikov at Petit Cambodge in the 10th Arrondissement in Paris, many dead. Police and emergency crews on site."

21:29 More shooting in same area, Avenue de la Republique

Minutes later, a shooting was reported not far away, near the popular Canal St Martin. @Pierre75010 was again one of the first to tweet about it, reporting "30 seconds of shooting":

21:30 Second explosion near Stade de France

Media report a second explosion near the Stade de France, at a brasserie. This was followed by a third explosion about 20 minutes later. Twitter user Rachidus, a journalist, tweeted a series of photos and videos showing the crowd spilling onto the pitch in panic.

Image caption Translation: "Boom, boom, boom, three explosions heard at the Stade de France followed by the evacuation of Francois Hollande"
Image caption Translation: "The crowd on the pitch at the Stade de France"

One of the explosions can be clearly heard on a widely-shared Vine.

21:38 Shooting at La Belle Equipe bar, Rue de Charonne

Shots ring out at another bar to the south of the first restaurant attacks, at La Belle Equipe bar in Rue de Charonne in the 11th District. Witnesses said the attackers arrived in a black Seat. One of those who witnessed the aftermath, Abigail Malka, wrote on Facebook that a dozen were dead and she warned people not to go outside.


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21:40 - 00:20 Explosions and shooting in and around Bataclan concert hall

Three attackers stormed the Bataclan concert hall, shooting indiscriminately into the crowd. Some people escaped; others were held hostage until security forces entered the hall and shot one of the attackers. The two remaining attackers killed themselves by detonating suicide vests. On Twitter, Eva Gerle said: "Warning - Gun shot at the Bataclan concert hall."

Two minutes later she told people to stay away from the area as the attackers "continue to shoot."

About 20 minutes later, Erwan Desplanques said his friend had escaped from the concert hall, although he reported "5 or 6" shooters:

Image caption Translation: "Oh my god, hostages taken at the Bataclan!"

BBC Panorama has been speaking to those who were caught up in the unfolding violence in Paris. You can watch watch the programme here.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

Blog by Mike Wendling

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