Reuter, C., Kaufhold, M. A., Spielhofer, T., & Hahne, A. S. (2017). Social media in emergencies: A representative study on citizens’ perception in Germany. Proceedings of the ACM: Human Computer Interaction (PACM): Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, 1(2), 1-19.
The value of social media in crises, disasters, and emergencies across different events (e.g. floods, storms, terroristic attacks), countries, and for heterogeneous participants (e.g. citizens, emergency services) is now well-attested. Existing work has examined the potentials and weaknesses of its use during specific events. Fewer studies, however, have focused on citizens’ perceptions of social media in emergencies, and none have deployed a representative sample to examine this. We present the results of the first representative study on citizens’ perception of social media in emergencies that we have conducted in Germany. Our study highlights, for example, that around half (45%) of people have used social media during an emergency to share and / or look for information. In contrast, false rumours on social media (74%) are perceived as a threat. Moreover, only a minority of people have downloaded a smartphone app for emergencies (16%), with the most popular ones’ weather and first aid apps.
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