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Identifying the role of social media during disasters

11 January 2013

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START researchers from University of Maryland, recently set out to find the roles social media could play in tackling man-made and natural disasters.

Given the increasingly important role social media play as sources of information during man-made and natural disasters, researchers from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism or START at the University of Maryland, recently set out to find what is known and yet to be determined about social media use in that context.

In the new literature review, “Social Media Use during Disasters,” the researchers provide detailed information about the public’s use of social media, both generally and during disasters, and address what prompts the public to use social media during disasters as well as what deters such consumption.

The report also discusses factors that might lead to active versus passive social media use during disasters and summarizes the relatively modest research regarding how to evaluate the influence of social media and, importantly, segment active versus passive social media users during disasters. The report ends with a discussion of areas warranting further research to contribute to this growing body of knowledge.

Scattered throughout the report are examples of social media consumption during key catastrophic events such as the September 11, 2001 attacks, the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, and the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The case studies provide insights into how the public used social media and other media, including some preliminary lessons learned from these notable events.

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SOURCE: ReliefWeb

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