Social Media in times of Crisis
4 April 2013
During the natural disasters and human-made crises of 2011 and 2012, from the Queensland floods to Hurricane Sandy, social media have emerged as key means of disseminating up-to-date news and information, sharing eyewitness reports, images, and videos, and organizing crisis response and recovery activities. Although online and mobile media are now well established as significant tools for public communication among citizens and civic authorities, their role in primary official communication and in the amplification of interpersonal and word-of-mouth communication during the crises has attracted significant attention and analysis in the worlds of both academia and policy. Instant communication using social media such as Twitter and Facebook helps citizens maintain a constant dialogue with governments; this dialogue can be especially valuable during times of crisis, but requires a careful recalibration of communication strategies on both sides in order to maximise efficiency and avoid the spreading of misinformation.