Tweeting Supertyphoon Haiyan: Evolving Functions of Twitter during and after a Disaster Event

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 28;11(3):e0150190. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150190. eCollection 2016.

Abstract

When disaster events capture global attention users of Twitter form transient interest communities that disseminate information and other messages online. This paper examines content related to Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) as it hit the Philippines and triggered international humanitarian response and media attention. It reveals how Twitter conversations about disasters evolve over time, showing an issue attention cycle on a social media platform. The paper examines different functions of Twitter and the information hubs that drive and sustain conversation about the event. Content analysis shows that the majority of tweets contain information about the typhoon or its damage, and disaster relief activities. There are differences in types of content between the most retweeted messages and posts that are original tweets. Original tweets are more likely to come from ordinary users, who are more likely to tweet emotions, messages of support, and political content compared with official sources and key information hubs that include news organizations, aid organization, and celebrities. Original tweets reveal use of the site beyond information to relief coordination and response.

MeSH terms

  • Cyclonic Storms
  • Databases, Factual
  • Disaster Planning
  • Disasters*
  • Information Dissemination
  • Philippines
  • Social Media*

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.