Social media and disasters: human security, environmental racism, and crisis communication in Hurricane Irma response

Sovacool, Benjamin K, Xu, Xiaojng, Zarazua de Rubens, Gerardo and Chen, Chien-fei (2020) Social media and disasters: human security, environmental racism, and crisis communication in Hurricane Irma response. Environmental Sociology. pp. 1-16. ISSN 2325-1042

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Abstract

Social media has been widely recognized as key communication channel in disaster situations. However, there is limited empirical investigation on how the intersecting issues of social order, environmental impacts, and crisis communication unfold from the perspective of a social media user. This study examines 60,449 tweets to and from the news media in Florida during and immediately after Hurricane Irma in September, 2017. Based on a critical review of the literature coupled with an eight-category coding scheme (including second-hand reporting, reporting on self-experience, requesting help, coordinating relief efforts, and expressing well wishes), the article assesses the content and timing of tweets before, during, and after the storm. It finds that thematically, twitter coverage not only covers the storm itself but pressing social issues such as looting, price gouging, the privileging of elites in rebuilding efforts, environmental vulnerability, and abandoning pets. Temporally, the volume of different tweets peaked and dropped at different stages; for example, tweets about personal experience peaked when the hurricane hit the ground while requests for help peaked in the days after the hurricane. The study allows for a better understanding of the sociological, environmental, and even social justice impacts and related disaster response through the use of social media.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Social media, tweets, disasters, content analysis, hurricane recovery
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Research Centres and Groups: The Sussex Energy Group
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: Francisco Dominguez
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2020 09:20
Last Modified: 21 May 2020 13:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/90725

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