Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study Highlights How Twitter Is Used To Share Information After A Disaster

24.05.2012
A study from North Carolina State University shows how people used Twitter following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan, highlighting challenges for using the social media tool to share information. The study also indicates that social media haven’t changed what we communicate so much as how quickly we can disseminate it.

Binder's study examined whether Twitter is an effective tool for sharing meaningful information after a disaster.

“I wanted to see if Twitter was an effective tool for sharing meaningful information about nuclear risk in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant,” says Dr. Andrew Binder, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and author of a paper describing the work. “I knew people would be sharing information, but I wanted to see whether it was anecdotal or substantive, and whether users were providing analysis and placing information in context.

“In the bigger picture, I wanted to see whether social media is changing the way we communicate, or if we are communicating the same way using different tools.”

Binder searched for Twitter posts, or “tweets,” originating in the United States that specifically referenced “Fukushima Daiichi” – which is the name of the nuclear plant – rather than searching for the term “Fukushima.” This allowed him to target tweets about the plant instead of general references to the tsunami and overarching disaster in the region. Using that as a base, Binder then selected every 20th tweet on each day over the two weeks following the onset of the Fukushima disaster – from March 11 to March 25, 2011 – to create a representative sample of these tweets.

Fifteen percent of the tweets in the sample contained some mention of risk-related terms, such as hazard or exposure, while 17.7 percent of the tweets included language that helped place the events at Fukushima Daiichi and their potential causes or consequences in context. For example, one tweet read “Most of the 100s of workers at Fukushima Daiichi live close to the plant so it’s their families and houses at risk.” Overall, 54 percent of the tweets included hyperlinks to external websites, of which 62.7 percent linked to traditional news sources.

“I found that, initially, tweets that mentioned risk were unlikely to include analysis or information on context,” Binder says. “Similarly, tweets that attempted to help understand events at Fukushima Daiichi rarely mentioned risk. By the time people began tweeting about risk issues in a meaningful way, the initial high level of interest had begun to wane significantly.”

Binder also found that people were more likely to include links to websites as time went on. And, as time passed, a higher percentage of those links were to traditional news sites.

“This highlights a significant problem,” Binder says. “People are clearly looking to news outlets for insight and analysis into disasters such as this one. But news organizations have fewer and fewer reporters who specialize in covering science and technology issues – and those are the very reporters who would be able to provide insight and analysis on these events.”

The study also seems to imply that social media have not significantly changed the content of our communications. “This case, at least, indicates that Twitter is allowing people to share news quickly and easily,” Binder says. “But the news they are sharing is not much different from that available to someone reading a print newspaper – they’re simply getting it sooner.”

The paper, “Figuring Out #Fukushima: An Initial Look at Functions and Content of US Twitter Commentary About Nuclear Risk,” will be published in the June issue of Environmental Communication.

-shipman-

Note to Editors: The study abstract follows.

“Figuring Out #Fukushima: An Initial Look at Functions and Content of US Twitter Commentary About Nuclear Risk”

Author: Andrew R. Binder, North Carolina State University

Published: June 2012 issue of Environmental Communication

Abstract: This study takes an exploratory look at Twitter content in the USA about the emergency at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station. In particular, I focus on the concepts of the ‘‘atrophy of vigilance’’ from the risk communication literature and the message functions fulfilled for social media users. Two important results emerge from this analysis. First, Twitter content in the USA reflected a cautious approach, mainly suggesting an informative versus interpretive function and rarely mentioning risk or hazard outright. Second, this informative emphasis on risk dominated the content of tweets in the few days following the emergency but decreased substantially within 2 weeks afterwards; it was then overtaken by an interpretive risk emphasis. In addition, toward the end of this period, tweets were more likely to include hyperlinks to websites of traditional news outlets. Implications for the empirical study of social media and risk communication are discussed.

Matt Shipman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ncsu.edu
http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/wms-binder-fukushima/

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht New cruise ship “Mein Schiff 1” features Fraunhofer 3D sound on board
05.09.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

nachricht Small enclosure, big sound, clear speech
31.08.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

Im Focus: Famous “sandpile model” shown to move like a traveling sand dune

Researchers at IST Austria find new property of important physical model. Results published in PNAS

The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years to better understand a physical phenomenon called self-organized...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

A landscape of mammalian development

21.02.2019 | Life Sciences

Surprising findings on forest fires

21.02.2019 | Earth Sciences

Atopic dermatitis: elevated salt concentrations in affected skin

21.02.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>