Twitter data from the 2019–20 Australian bushfires reveals participatory and temporal variations in social media use for disaster recovery
Social media platforms have proved to be vital sources of information to support disaster response and recovery. A key issue, though, is that social media conversation about disasters tends to tail off after the immediate disaster response phase, potentially limiting the extent to which social media can be relied on to support recovery. This situation motivates the present study of social media usage patterns, including who contributes to social media around disaster recovery, which recovery activities they contribute to, and how well that participation is sustained over time. Utilising Twitter data from the 2019–20 Australian bushfires, we statistically examined the participation of different groups (citizens, emergency agencies, politicians and others) across categories of disaster recovery activity such as donations & financial support or mental health & emotional support, and observed variations over time. The results showed that user groups differed in how much they contributed on Twitter around different recovery activities, and their levels of participation varied with time. Recovery-related topics also varied significantly with time. These findings are valuable because they increase our understanding of which aspects of disaster recovery currently benefit most from social media and which are relatively neglected, indicating where to focus resources and recovery effort.
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University of Wollongong