Home > BLOG 4, Crisis Communication > Social Media and Disaster Response: Blog 4 Crisis

Social Media and Disaster Response: Blog 4 Crisis

Facebook and Twitter have recently evolved as major players in disaster response.

  • Facebook acts as a facilitator of information between the public(Facebook users) and officials associated with the event(Relief agencies).
  • Facebook is the platform for agencies to display their immediate or sustainable message in one place for anyone’s use.
  • Twitter plays a much different roll in producing news.  Twitter allows first responders and individuals directly experiencing the event to immediately upload their responses to their pages.
  • Twitter is the live feed of constantly streaming information.

They both rely on their users being “connected” and each have positives and negatives in their ability to convey pre, post, and current disaster messages.

To show some ways that Facebook and Twitter have used disaster information in the past, I will compare their messages during and after the Joplin, Missouri Tornado.


Facebook is useful because there are unlimited possibilities for messages and their intended audiences. Search : '"Joplin Tornado" on FB and you can access pages about survivors, victims, relief and even lost pets.

"Joplin, MO Tornado Recover" is the top "liked" page on Facebook for the disaster with 172,267 likes. The page is a great tool for the public to obtain information regarding ANY recovery issue. The site is complete with photos, video, constant news updates, links to more pages regarding Joplin and etc. It seems like a great tool for disaster communication.


Chilling images and first-hand accounts of the disaster surfaced on Twitter minutes after the disaster took place.


Tweets of the disaster had a wide range of topics from emergency relief, eager volunteers, devastated civilians, distant onlookers, and everyone who felt the shock of Joplin. Twitter was a very effective way of delivering a wide variety disaster information from a wide variety of professional and independent communication sources.


Facebook and Twitter have emerged as a new form of disaster communication.  They provide a unique outlet for of information that is immediate and can be supplemented by links to other disaster information.  We still have a lot to learn about the best ways of using this technology, but its clear that its use in disaster communication will only expand with experience.

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