In 2009, for the first time, a majority of American adults reported the Internet was their preferred source for information and the most reliable source for news (Zogby Interactive, 2009). During disasters, the public is even more active online, increasingly turning to social media for the most up-to-date information. For example, after the 2011 Japanese tsunami there were more than 5,500 tweets per second about the disaster (Crisis Communication
Management, 2012). Social media, however, are used for more than information seeking or sharing during disasters; the public increasingly expects emergency managers to monitor and respond to their social media posts. A 2010 American Red Cross survey found an alarming 75% of 1,058 respondents expected help to arrive within an hour if they posted a request on a social media site (American Red Cross, 2010).
Given the increasingly important information role social media play during disasters, it is essential to understand what is known about social media use during disasters and what remains to be tested. Otherwise, policy makers and emergency managers risk making disaster communication decisions based on intuition or inaccurate information. To that end, this report summarizes what is empirically known and yet to be determined about social media use pertaining to disasters.
Fraustino, Julia Daisy, Brooke Liu and Yan Jin. “Social Media Use during Disasters: A Review of the Knowledge Base and Gaps,” Final Report to Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division, Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. College Park, MD: START, 2012.
Social Media Use during Disasters- A Review of the Knowledge Base and Gaps