The Role of Social Media in Disaster Response and Recovery - Seeker's Thoughts

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The Role of Social Media in Disaster Response and Recovery


The Role of Social Media in Disaster Response and Recovery





The Role of Social Media in Disaster Response and Recovery


Social media provides people affected by disaster with access to vital information regarding funding, reconstruction and infrastructure services. People use it as a way of sharing news, connecting with family and friends and seeking assistance - including accessing vital funding, reconstruction or infrastructure services that may be available.


Social media is an effective way to communicate during disasters and indicate your status, communicate where you are located (e.g. evacuation routes or designated help areas) as well as determine your safety status.


Also Read: How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster - A Comprehensive Guide 




Social media can provide people with information on the effects of disasters and help them prepare for them, especially when other communication channels have been disrupted. Businesses also utilize this platform to notify their customers, clients and suppliers as to their status; lost pets can even be found through its use!


Disaster recovery involves helping those impacted to rebuild and reopen, often with assistance from government. Some assistance comes in the form of grants and subsidies while other forms take the form of public-private partnerships to bring private businesses back into affected communities.


Partnerships can be highly effective at expediting rebuilding, yet can sometimes be challenging to set up. One such partnership is Nextdoor, a social networking platform which connects neighbors in nearby neighborhoods and uses their collective power to assist neighbors during disasters. Such support may prove essential to recovery, making Nextdoor worthy of study by researchers in future.


Social media provides another significant benefit in terms of disaster reporting: it can demonstrate the extent of damage sustained in a neighborhood or city during an incident. Studies have revealed that post counts on certain platforms correlate directly to levels of destruction in communities; higher volumes correspond with more severe destruction (Rosser, Leibovici & Jackson 2017).


By giving citizens control over an event and making decisions about how they respond, social media may enhance disaster preparedness by giving citizens more influence over how to react. Furthermore, people can express their thoughts directly to authorities via these platforms while sharing concerns or experiences directly through them - but beware - sometimes false or misleading information can also come out on social media.




Social media can be an invaluable public good during times of disaster, providing people with an avenue to share information, seek assistance or offer their support, connect with fellow residents in a community and become better informed. Furthermore, it offers impartial, timely updates regarding what is occurring on the ground and its impacts.


Social media can provide support in various fields, from financial assistance and economic recovery, solidarity and cohesion, mental health support and emotional assistance to accessing information. Unfortunately, there has been little research conducted into how social media can support post-disaster recovery - specifically how it contributes to socioeconomic wellbeing of affected individuals and communities.


One study revealed that Nextdoor users in Houston were better at coordinating water rescues during Hurricane Harvey than non-users (Mackey et al. 2019). Another lexical choice analysis of tweets about Harvey revealed that high relative frequency pairs indicated urgency of communication, leading to improved detection of urgent needs and more precise deployment of relief efforts by aid organizations (Kim & Hastak 2018).


While social media has many beneficial aspects during disasters, its misuse can also be damaging. Rumors and troll accounts may spread false information that causes distrust and discord among affected communities - further hindering their capacity for recovery.


Social media research on disaster response and recovery tends to focus on North America, so future studies should address this geographic bias by investigating social media use across various cultures - something especially crucial in nations prone to natural disasters.


Additionally, it is vital that we assess the roles that social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, in addition to emerging ones like TikTok can play in disaster outcomes. Each platform has different user bases who utilize it differently during emergencies.




Social media can serve as the main form of communication for disaster survivors during an emergency situation, with its availability providing citizens a way to stay in contact with loved ones, law enforcement officials and utility companies as well as being an essential way for individuals and businesses alike to let others know of their status following disaster.


Social media is also invaluable when it comes to long-term recovery efforts following disaster. It can help locate missing persons and recover items that have been lost, and organizations use social media as an outreach platform to inform the public of donation drives or relief funds. People also utilize it for sharing updates regarding rebuilding efforts after disaster strikes their area.


Communication tools like social media are also invaluable to local governments during the recovery process, providing local governments with a quick way to reach residents during and post Hurricane Harvey. Studies have demonstrated that neighborhoods with greater social media usage before, during, and post Harvey rebuilt faster compared to those with less use - likely because social media allows users to quickly access information, share experiences with one another, and form lasting bonds between individuals.


Residents can use social media as a powerful voice against how government agencies handle disasters. But socially divisive discourse online could divide communities, undermining trust, unity and shared values that unite them as one community.


As social media continues to gain in popularity, more research is being done into its role in disaster response and recovery. Studies have revealed that various platforms such as Twitter, Nextdoor, Facebook and Weibo may prove invaluable during an emergency; geo-locating social media activity helps identify most affected areas to facilitate better targeting relief efforts.




As part of disaster recovery, education is key in reinstating social norms, reinforcing normalcy, and providing knowledge to respond and mitigate future crises. Social media platforms provide an ideal forum for disseminating education-related information such as emergency warnings, evacuation maps and identifying areas that require assistance; dispelling rumors or spreading misinformation and encouraging community involvement are just a few benefits to be had from social media use for education purposes.


Studies highlighting the impact of social media in providing health and safety education often focus on its impact in this regard; however, few examine its role in teaching individuals how to care for themselves during and after disasters. More research needs to be conducted into how health organizations and government agencies can best communicate with disaster-impacted communities through social media channels in order to provide effective education of those most in need.


Studies have explored the role of social media in supporting economic and business recovery following disasters. One such study determined that social media can inform consumer spending decisions as well as support businesses by disseminating information like weather updates and product recall announcements. It's important to remember, though, that this type of research relies heavily on accurate real time data collection, making its collection an ongoing challenge.


Few studies have explored the role of social media in supporting long-term recovery after disasters, including those resulting from housing and infrastructure reconstruction. Furthermore, more research should be conducted into using G2C communication on these platforms in these situations.


Current research exhibits an apparent geographical bias, with most studies focused on North American contexts. More studies are necessary across various countries and cultural settings - especially Minority world. Furthermore, more investigation should examine how social media plays a role in disaster recovery from natural and man-made disaster types like floods, fires, cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes as well as considering emerging social media platforms like TikTok which are rapidly growing popular.


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