Twitter and Disasters

Murthy, Dhiraj; Longwell, Scott A.
Information, Communication & Society

This research explores the specific use of the prominent social media website Twitter during the 2010 Pakistan floods to examine whether users tend to tweet/retweet links from traditional versus social media, what countries these users are tweeting from, and whether there is a correlation between location and the linking of traditional versus social media. The study finds that Western users have an overwhelming preference for linking to traditional media and Pakistani users have a slight preference for linking to social media. The study also concludes that authorities and hubs in our sample have a significant preference for linking to social media rather than traditional media sites. The findings of this study suggest that there is a perceived legitimacy of social media during disasters by users in Pakistan. Additionally, it provides insights into how social media may be – albeit minimally – challenging the dominant position of traditional media in disaster reporting in developing countries.