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State Department Deploys Social Media to Aid Haiti Relief Campaign

The American Red Cross SMS Haiti Relief Campaign, facilitated by the U.S. State Department, has been wildly successful, and it is just one example of how the State Department is increasingly using technology to support its foreign policy, a department official said on CBSNews.com's Washington Unplugged today.

Telecommunications has always played an important role in disaster relief efforts, Jared Cohen, a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, told moderator Bob Scheiffer. But "for the first time, we actually have the tools to make it a huge part of the actual relief effort," he said.

The SMS relief campaign, in which individuals donate $10 to the Red Cross by texting the word "Haiti" to 90999, generated $1.7 million in its first 24 hours, Cohen said. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that overall, it has now raised more than $10 million from more than one million donors, making it the largest mobile donation campaign ever.

The State Department also announced today a new tool, found at www.state.gov/Haitiquake, with which people can locate missing persons. Using technology to locate missing persons "is a great example of 21st century state craft," Cohen said.

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Also on Washington Unplugged today, CBS News' Bill Plante sat down with two filmmakers releasing a documentary on the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

"Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.