Understanding the use of social media in the disaster context - a tropical cyclone Debbie case study

Gurtner, Yetta (2018) Understanding the use of social media in the disaster context - a tropical cyclone Debbie case study. In: [Presented at the Australian and New Zealand Disaster Management Conference]. From: Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference 2018, 21-22 May 2018, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.

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While traditional modes of communication and media remain integral to contemporary disaster management, it is now well recognised that web-based technologies and social media can facilitate the rapid dissemination of critical information in a disaster context. Consequently, there has been increasing government and agency interest regarding the opportunities and utility of such resources to provide effective, accurate and timely public information. Many of these agencies and organisations have adopted an active web and social media presence, however there is still limited research based in understanding how individuals use and perceive this web-based content during an extreme event.

An online survey of Facebook users (n=4196) conducted around the Tropical Cyclone Debbie event in March 2017, provides direct insight into where respondents sourced relevant risk and hazard information, how they used and shared it on social media, and how they perceived the information accessed in terms of trust and credibility. Open-ended responses further highlight preferred communication styles and strategies. While pervasive concerns regarding the proliferation of conflicting, misleading and inaccurate information from individuals and unofficial sources on social media appear somewhat justified in this context, the general sentiment from respondents was that Facebook provided direct, easy, and on-demand access to a range of information sources to assist informed decision-making. Such evidenced based research supports the value of an official online media presence and recommends popular strategies to develop and enhance exiting communication capacities.

Item ID: 53820
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
Keywords: social media in disasters, tropical cyclone Debbie, Facebook in disaster communication
Additional Information:


1. Social media has become a key resource for the public to access and share information in disaster events in Australia. 2. Despite the level of public trust in official information sources most people supplement this content with information from multiple informal sources online. 3. Effective online risk and hazard communication should be timely, easily accessible, understandable, locally relevant, credible, accurate and responsive to questions

Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2018 01:02
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified @ 50%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200199 Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified @ 50%
89 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 8999 Other Information and Communication Services > 899999 Information and Communication Services not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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