In the wake of the tragic attacks in Paris, Google announced that international calls to France will be temporarily available free of charge via Hangouts.
The Paris attacks on Friday night, Nov. 13, took a heavy toll and claimed the lives of more than 150 people, as per the latest counts. Numerous people rallied up to offer their support to victims and their families, and tech companies are coming forward with their own features in an effort to help.
Google normally charges international fees for placing Hangouts calls outside the country, but the current situation in Paris has prompted the company to offer free calls to France via Hangouts.
— Google (@google) November 14, 2015
Callers can take advantage of this offer through the Hangouts app on Android, iOS, as well as the web. "We're thinking of you, Paris. No fees on calls to France, via Hangouts.#ParisAttacks," Google announced in a new post on Google+.
The announcement makes no mention of particular countries, which means that free calls to France are available from any location where Hangouts is available. It remains unclear, however, whether Google Voice users can also place free calls to France.
Google is not the only tech company offering support in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Facebook also activated a new "Safety Check" feature, allowing people to mark themselves or others as "safe" so their friends and family know they're unharmed. People also showed their support on Twitter, creating the hashtag #PorteOuverte, i.e. "open door."
At the same time, a new @PorteOuverteFRA account on Twitter is available specifically for retweeting the phone numbers and addresses of the volunteers who decided to open their doors to people who need a safe place to spend the night.
Social media has become an important environment not just for socializing casually, but also for offering support, spreading the latest news, organizing volunteer efforts and keeping tabs on loved ones in times of great distress, such as the recent attacks in Paris.