Topic 4 – Social media

Unit 7 – Social Media

Social Media Emergency Management: Advantages and Disadvantages

  1. The main point of this article is how the presence of social media can be extremely helpful in times of emergency.
  2. 2a In order for companies to effectively relay vital information specific to an emergency on social media, the one who runs the account must spend adequate time on the platform to get used to the way things are read and interpreted on social media.
  3. (2b) Social media can be useful to kill off rumors in times of emergency.
  4. (2c) Often times the cons that come with the use of social media in times of disaster can be wiped away through the use of “policy development and practice”.
  5. (3) I chose this article because it seemed to not only give a balanced view on the practical pros and cons of social media, but also offered solutions on how to fix the cons.  I think that aspect of the article is really what grabbed my attention.

Unit 7, Group 4-Social media and disasters

Research and Opinions

The Article I pick that I felt was relevant to the topic was ‘Social media: A mixed blessing for disaster response.’ This article goes into detail about the dangers of disaster information being incorrect or malicious. Causing recovery efforts from the disaster to be hindered.

A few interesting points I found in this article were:

  • Government officials and other organizations use social media to share warnings and disaster information with the public.
  •    Some information cannot be stopped or updated once the information has been sent out. The article talks about how during a tsunami, victims posted how they need help and the information was shared to bring awareness. However, the information could not be taken down once the victims were rescued so officials had trouble telling who was rescued and who still needed help with the repetitive distress posts on social media.
  •  The article also brought up the point that not everyone is looking to help in these situations.  People can be malicious and wish to confuse, disrupt, or otherwise thwart response efforts. Planks and terrorist acts are not uncommon when it comes to what follows a natural disaster.
  • Governments and countries put a lot of funds and work into emergency response systems. It is silly to no use them.

How has social media use increased community preparedness and resilience to disasters? 

Compared to other methods in the past like spreading the word and radio. Social media has a much better method due to the fact that many people use and have access to it in real time all around the world. With social media being at your fingertips at al time, it connects you with millions of people who can be warned or supply help.

How has it contributed to the spread of misinformation or fostered disorganization or panic?

Even though Social media can help against a disaster, it can also create more problems. When false information or misinformed people report on a disaster, this can lead mass hysteria or fails assurance. An example is if a person posts on his social media outlets that he is trapped and needs help but does not try any other method of communication to request help. The odds of the person actually getting help are decreased due to the fact that he did not try to contact help officials directly.

Other Helpful Links:

How To Handle Social Media Content During A Natural Disaster

Embracing Social Media During Natural Disasters

Your tourism megaphone: social media during natural disasters

Social media: A mixed blessing for disaster response

The Power Of Social Media During A Natural Disaster

Social Media Pros and Cons


I thought that the first article was interesting because it emphasized that social media is a positive tool to have during natural disasters. The article stated that: “Firefighters and police officers cannot respond to every phone call. In some cases, emergency call response centers have shut down or have become unreachable because of damaged communication systems.” People have been known to use apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor to look to the community for help when they weren’t receiving help from first responders. During Hurricane Harvey, a family and their petswere rescued by neighbors when they were unable to contact first responders. These apps have also been used to organize food and medical supplies and find places for people to stay. Furthermore, it is a great tool to help people to connect and support each other after a disaster. In disastrous situations families, friends, and neighbors are able to  help one another and keep each other safe with the aid of these apps.


Although social media can have a positive impact during a natural disaster, it can also be a negative tool. The second article that I found talks about the “good, the bad, and the in-between” of using social media. I used this article to focus on the negative aspects of using social media during a natural disaster. One negative thing in using social media is the fact that people are often wrong on social media. Usually you are relying on people’s opinions and not an accurate news source. Also, social posts that are tying to be helpful or that are announcing someone’s safety can unintentionally reveal information that can endanger others.


Aldrich, Daniel. 2017. “Why Social Media Apps Should Be In Your Disaster Kit.”

Zoltick, Lauren. 2014. “The Good, Bad and In-Between of Social Media in Crisis Situations.”

Social Media

The use of social media looks to be helpful in reaching the masses in a short amount of time. The article I found talks about the federal governments use of social media during some of the more recent disaster and the challenges that are presented with that. Some of the Pro’s would be the ability to communicate with greater speed and in a first-hand form. Traditionally the entity that was managing a disaster would have to develop the message and depend on formal media to help push that message. There are delays with this process and its kind of like the telephone game where the message’s intent may be lost by miss interpretation. Also, things like the news cycle can delay the when the message is pushed and how much they focus on the message.  Social media can allow for a more real-time approach to the use of shorter higher priority message’s.

The cons to the use of social media are the lack of control over non-official posters. Often people post what they have heard will little or no vetting of the information. Or worse people pose as official sources and publish misinformation. Social media often can propagate rumors that are difficult to directly address by the public information officers (PIO’s) because you know how correcting someone online can go. The correction of rumors is done indirectly through the next cycle of messaging.



Unit 7, Group 4 – Social Media: Resources

UPDATE April 15, 2018
Here is a chart I made for my slide based on the data I gathered from my articles.
[[Original Post Below]]
I found several articles that address the use of social media during emergencies. It was hard to narrow them down to just one, so, I am including all four. In case anyone wants to read them I have included the links. I think there is a lot we can learn from these case studies and they are written from different view points to really see the vast differences.

The Negative Impacts

According to the  there are four areas that reflect negative in the event of an emergency:
1. Incorrect Information– intentional versus unintentional
Incorrect information can be caused by situations where the true situation is difficult to confirm. In the Fukushima disaster, rumors circulated regarding appropriate safety precautions.   (i.e. people should evacuate, the possibility of food and water shortages, and whether there would be additional radioactive releases.) Incorrect information can lead to confusion whether intentional or unintentional, and malicious.
One example is when fake accounts are created that impersonate an official account. Fairfax County [VA] Government was proactive during a winter storm in January 2014 as its school system was faced with many fake accounts announcing incorrect closures. Government and schools worked together to actively advise people where to find official information.
Another example comes from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Twitter user @ComfortablySmug began spreading several rumors via social media, including that the New York Stock Exchange Building was flooded, that Con Edison was preemptively shutting off power in New York City, and that all bridges going to and from Manhattan were being sealed off.  Additionally, photoshopped pictures of sharks swimming in the streets, screenshots from the movie The Day After Tomorrow, and other dramatic pictures from past storms proliferated on social media.
2.  Insufficient Information– When information is not made available to the public or is slow to update the public, this can lead to rumors.
3. Outdated Information-It is very common for people to do internet searches and take the first picture that pops up without verifying the information. There have been many cases where the same photo has been used for different events over the years.
4. Opportunistic Disinformation- “Opportunistic disinformation occurs when predatory individuals attempt to capitalize on a particular event or incident. Opportunistic misinformation generally falls into one of two categories: revenue-generating and financially incentivized, or malicious and politically incentivized.”


The Positive Impacts

Social media can be used during an emergency to provide users with accurate and up-to-date information as the information become available- keeping users in the loop. Facebook and twitter can act as “clearing-house” by providing up-to-date information by various
organizations within one location during an emergency. Social media outlets make it easy to post information on basic needs, locating loved ones, requests for help, and volunteering. By using hashtags, people can search for those and find useful information about the emergency quickly.
In the event of an emergency, people are more likely to have access to their cell phones to get updated information before, during, and after a disaster. Some areas affect may have power outages, but users can rely on their cell phone to check social media for updates.
Weather updates can easily go out to warn individuals of a potential impact in their area.
Social media has both positive and negative impacts. The key is for emergency personnel to keep users updated and informed as they receive information to combat the rumor mill and fear mongers.
Even if updates are minimal, it is best to keep the public informed. By using social media, verified accounts can get information out to the public faster than solely relying on one medium, such as a news outlet, to get the information out to the general public.




Oh, Onook; Agrawal, Manish; and Rao, Raghav. 2013. “Community Intelligence and Social Media Services: A Rumor Theoretic Analysis of Tweets During Social Crises,” MIS Quarterly, (37: 2) pp.407-426.

Countering Misinformation, Rumors, and False Information on Social Media Before, During, and After Disasters and Emergencies. Web. Retrieved on April 7, 2018 from