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Twitter mobilizes Haiti aid efforts

wyclef_anderson_haiti.top.jpgRapper and Haiti native Wyclef Jean discussed the disaster with Anderson Cooper Tuesday night on CNN.By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In the aftermath of a severe earthquake in Haiti late Tuesday, Twitter is playing a critical role in collecting donations to help disaster victims.

Fundraising efforts by the American Red Cross and rapper Wyclef Jean were two of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter early Wednesday. Both organizations asked Twitter users to text a number to make a donation that would be added to their cell phone bills.

The International Federation of the Red Cross estimated that 3 million people were affected by the 7.0-magnitude quake, the center of which was located near capital city Port-au-Prince.

Twitter lit up with posts from around the globe, including some tweets from Haitians who had no other way to communicate amid the chaos. Donation efforts on the site mobilized quickly amid the first natural disaster to strike since the social media site took off.

At about 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, the American Cross tweeted that it was pledging an initial $200,000 to assist those affected.

Shortly after midnight, @RedCross updated: "You can text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts in #haiti." The "hashtags" denote topics, and users can search the Twitterverse for keywords.

Wyclef Jean, a musician formerly of the popular group The Fugees, used his account @Wyclef to post news updates and quickly raise funds.

Jean, who is from Haiti, founded Yéle Haiti in 2005 to build global awareness for the country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. At about 6:30 p.m. ET, he tweeted: "Please text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 to YELE HAITI.Your money will help with relief efforts. They need our help..please help if you can."

About an hour later, it seemed the system had been overwhelmed with people looking to give aid. @Wyclef posted a message: "Our 501501 Yele donation system is down. It will be fixed shortly please standby."

As the day progressed, more celebrities tweeted to urge their followers to donate. Actor Rainn Wilson of "The Office" posted on his Twitter account to support the organization Planting Peace, which works primarily with orphanages in Haiti.

"House" star Olivia Wilde tweeted that she will send personalized videos to those who donate $100 or more if they email her their electronic receipts.

To follow CNN's Twitter feed devoted to breaking news in Haiti, click: http://twitter.com/cnnbrk/haiti  To top of page

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