The use of social media in crisis communication
The fields of risk and crisis communication have undergone a rapid transformation over the last 20 years. With the development of the Internet, Web 2.0, and mobile phone applications, the traditional “expert-to-receiver” model of communication has become largely outdated. Social media has allowed citizens to actively engage in and contribute to crisis dialogues, thus becoming influential content creators themselves. This chapter will explore the various strengths and weaknesses of social media as a crisis communications tool. Several case studies are used to exemplify the use of social media during extreme events, including Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Goderich tornado. Issues of trust, credibility, misinformation management, crowdsourcing, and public safety are also explored. The chapter concludes with a discussion about social media and community resilience. It is emphasized that social media can facilitate self-organization, information seeking, and sharing and act as a platform for the psychosocial healing of survivors. Accordingly, social media has the potential to positively influence community resilience before, during, and after crises.