Social Media Platforms During Crisis

Social media has changed the way how we communicate and interact with friends, families, and other people globally, creating a new form of ecosystem. On the social media platform, people are more likely to get their latest news update first. According to Pew Research Centre (2017), in August, 67% U.S. citizens are getting at least some of their news from social media, while 20% of them are reported of doing so often. Three of the major social media platform sites (Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat) are reported to have a major increase of news consumption since last year (Shearer & Gottfried 2017).

Its platforms also has played a vital role in communication during a crisis. Disaster-related news, especially ones of “violent global scale disaster” has “catalysed social media interaction, video sharing and blog content in ways that multiply this sense of excess and remainder” (McCosker 2013), given us the way to better communicate during crisis situations (Zoltick 2014).

One of the most recent crisis that had occurred recently is the Irma and Harvey hurricanes that had struck in the U.S. Social media has been an effective component for relief support. With the use of Facebook Safety Check, it gives people a quick way to mark themselves “safe”, alleviating their friends and family from worry (Zoltick 2014). It also helps to bring “ground-level interaction […] to recovery efforts” (Fernandez 2017). During the Hurricane Irma, volunteer dispatcher McNeil has turned to social media, using her personal Facebook page calling for any volunteers to assist with the crisis, enabling more people to be aware of the situation and ways they could assist, and also connect with victims who might otherwise not able to contact her (Fernandez 2017).

However, social media can also have negative impact during crisis, particularly Facebook, which has no way of distinguish which news are facts or fiction. According to Zoltick (2014), news that are being erroneously report or completely manufactured can causes unwarranted panic, and overly sensationalised crisis that are not of immediate threat. Also, social posts intending to be helpful or to announce the user’s safety, can also unintentionally reveal information that can endanger others, such as giving away police and personal location during an active terrorist attack (Zoltick 2014).

According to McCosker (2013), although some people viewed the large concentration of media and communication on crisis events as a “form of ‘disaster porn’”, he thinks otherwise. Rather, he views it as a “continued revitalisation of media and communication environments through events and through trauma”, and also the power of social media platforms to “create powerful intimacies and constitute global communities of empathy and reaction” (McCosker, 2013).


Fernandez, R 2017, “What Harvey and Irma Taught Us About Using Social Media in Emergency Response”, Pacific Standard, viewed 13 October, 2017, <>.

Goldman, C 2016, “In Washington Pizzeria Attack, Fake News Brought Real Guns”,, viewed 13 October, 2017, <>.

McCosker, A. (2013) ‘Disaster: Intensive Encounters’, in Intensive Media: Aversive Affect and Visual Culture, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke.

Shearer, E & Gottfried, J 2017, “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017”, Pew Research Center, viewed 13 October, 2017, <>.

Zoltick, L 2014, “The Good, Bad, and In-Between of Social Media In Crisis Situations”, ISL, viewed 12 October, 2017, <>.

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