Socializing in emergencies - A review of the use of social media in emergency situations

Tomer Simon*, Avishay Goldberg, Bruria Adini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Social media tools are integrated in most parts of our daily lives, as citizens, netizens, researchers or emergency responders. Lessons learnt from disasters and emergencies that occurred globally in the last few years have shown that social media tools may serve as an integral and significant component of crisis response. Communication is one of the fundamental tools of emergency management. It becomes crucial when there are dozens of agencies and organizations responding to a disaster. Regardless of the type of emergency, whether a terrorist attack, a hurricane or an earthquake, communication lines may be overloaded and cellular networks overwhelmed as too many people attempt to use them to access information. Social scientists have presented that post-disaster active public participation was largely altruistic, including activities such as search and rescue, first aid treatment, victim evacuation, and on-line help. Social media provides opportunities for engaging citizens in the emergency management by both disseminating information to the public and accessing information from them. During emergency events, individuals are exposed to large quantities of information without being aware of their validity or risk of misinformation, but users are usually swift to correct them, thus making the social media "self-regulating".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-619
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Information Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


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